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Congresswoman Betty McCollum's Extension of Remarks -- Outraged at the Irresponsible Republican Government Shutdown

October 1, 2013
Statements For the Record

Mr. Speaker, the House Republican majority has decided that appeasing radical Tea Party extremists is more important to them than providing necessary funding for the continued operation of the federal government, even on a temporary basis. Passing a common sense continuing resolution would ensure vital government services for millions of American families and business.  These are the basic services provided everyday by federal agencies that keep our communities and country strong.

It is now the early morning hour of October 1st and Fiscal Year 2014 has commenced, but the government is shutdown.  Here we are and the Republican majority in the House has failed to pass a simple, common sense extension to fund the government that the U.S. Senate passed three times.

The Tea Party GOP success in shutting down the government tonight means that over 800,000 federal employees will immediately be furloughed and vital federal services will be suspended indefinitely.  Government services and functions we all take for granted for things like food inspections, government permitting, and essential scientific research will all immediately stop.  They don’t need to stop, but Republican House Members have made this choice as part of a cynical, dangerous, and harmful political strategy intended to appease conservatives, anarchists, and those who disregard the value of government.

Why?  Why would Congress want the government to shut down?  Because Tea Party Republicans are determined to repeal, defund or delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), denying healthcare to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, in exchange for allowing the federal government to keep operating. This political stunt is beyond irresponsible, it is irrational when considering the damage it will cause to the economy, job creation, and families all across America.

Despite the fact that ObamaCare is the law, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional, and was the basis of President Obama’s re-election in 2012, House Tea Party Republicans still feel they can “negotiate” the dismantling of ObamaCare by holding the entire federal government hostage.

Ironically, the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges will open today and this government shutdown will do nothing to deter, delay or derail this critical health program from being implemented.  ObamaCare is going forward and millions of Americans will have access to affordable healthcare. House Republicans have voted as many as 45 times, including tonight, to repeal, replace or defund ObamaCare. They are obsessed with this law and it has become a mania that has now resulted in a shutdown of the U.S. government – it is outrageous and it angers me greatly.  It is a disgrace.

When will House Republicans end the dangerous game they are playing and put the needs of our Nation above their narrow, backwards, and irresponsible ideological demands?  I was optimistic that Democrats and Republicans could find common ground on a clean continuing resolution that passed the U.S. Senate to fund the government for the next six weeks. 

It is clear to the American people that the Republican strategy has been to create a crisis and use a government shutdown as a bargaining chip to advance an extreme agenda regardless whether there are millions of Americans who get hurt.

Yesterday in Politico my Republican friend and colleague from Idaho, Rep. Mike Simpson, was quoted as saying, “We bitched and moaned about the Senate not doing a budget. Then they did, and we didn’t go to conference. You need a big plan, Democrats and Republicans in the same room.  We should have gone to conference.”

He is right. House Republicans refused to negotiate on the federal budget. They ignored calls from Democrats to appoint conferees.

Tonight the New York Times reported, “The House’s most ardent conservatives appeared ready to see their war over the health care law through to its inevitable conclusion, a shutdown that would test voters’ patience. But cracks in the Republican caucus opened into fissures of frustration.”

The Times article then goes to quote one of our colleagues: “You have this group that keeps saying somehow if you’re not with them, you’re for Obamacare,” said Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California. “If you’re not with exactly their plan, exactly what they want to do, then you’re somehow for Obamacare, and it’s just getting a little old. It’s moronic to shut down the government over this.”

That’s right “moronic.”  And I could not agree with my Republican colleague more.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, the passage of a continuing resolution is about funding the government – not re-writing the law to repeal, defund, or derail health reform.  Democrats would like to see a Farm Bill, immigration reform, and responsible gun safety legislation passed into law, but we are not holding the federal government and the American people hostage to advance our legislative priorities.  It is not responsible.  Congress needs to pass a clean continuing resolution, re-open the government, and govern responsibly.

The situation the American people find themselves in at this moment is appalling.  It is maddening.  This Republican Congress has abdicated its responsibility and duty to the citizens of this country.  This federal government shutdown is a manufactured crisis for political gain propagated by the extremists who disdain government itself. 

My job as a Member of Congress is to govern. I am committed to work with my Republican colleagues, my colleagues in the U.S. Senate, and the Obama Administration to pass a clean continuing resolution that funds the government without legislating radical riders or hostage taking.

This great nation is being tested by the irresponsibility of a House Republican majority that refused to govern. I sincerely hope the American people voice their displeasure, disdain, and disgust at the political game playing.

I yield back my time.