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Providing for Consideration of H.J. Res. Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, and Providing for Consideration of Motions to Suspend the Rules

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. SCANLON. Madam Speaker, on Wednesday, the Rules Committee met and reported a rule, House Resolution 52, providing for consideration of H.J. Res. 28, the Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act of 2019 to fund the government until February 28.

The rule provides for consideration of the legislation under a closed rule. The rule provides 1 hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking member of the Committee on Appropriations. Additionally, the rule provides suspension authority through the legislative day of January 25, 2019.

Madam Speaker, we are in day 27 of this government shutdown, the longest government shutdown in our Nation's history.

Nearly 800,000 Federal employees have now missed a paycheck since the shutdown began. Some estimates say those employees have lost an average of $5,000 each so far.

These hardworking Americans are law enforcement officers and National Park Service, EPA, FDA, and IRS employees, and so many others in dedicated Federal service whose families are needlessly suffering. These employees are either furloughed or being forced to work without pay. This is not an acceptable way to govern.

I may not have been a Member of this body as long as some people here, but I don't think there is a single Member, Democrat or Republican, who doesn't care about securing our border, but it is foolish to think that keeping our government shut down will in any way help secure the border.

You know what Border Patrol and Coast Guard members want more than a wall? They want their paychecks to come on time.

Democrats have made it clear, we are more than willing to come to the table to talk about sensible border security, but the first step has to be to reopen the government and get our government back to functioning.

This majority has already voted to open the government seven times, with support from across the aisle. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to act on any of these bipartisan pieces of legislation, the same legislation, I might add, that has already passed the Senate.

There are more than 100 freshmen Members of this body, comprising over 20 percent of the House, who have never worked in a functioning Federal Government due to the Senate's inaction. All of our constituents, both Republican and Democrat, are suffering because of that failure to act.

Let me share with you the traumatic impact of the shutdown on my constituents and Americans across the country.

Jennifer, the wife of a Coast Guard gunner's mate, wrote to my office to detail the hardships her family is facing. Her husband has served in the Coast Guard for 19 years. They are used to stressful deployments, and her children are proud of their father's service. But now Jennifer has new hardships to face: how to feed her family on only her income, how she could make the holidays special while not knowing when her husband's next paycheck would come, and how to shield her kids from her constant worry over the absence of that income.

This is an embarrassment. Too many Federal workers were already living paycheck to paycheck before those paychecks stopped. Having to put a mortgage payment on a credit card, deal with an eviction notice, or plead with a bank to delay a student loan payment should not be the reality forced upon hardworking Federal employees.

The debts these workers incur during the shutdown will follow them long after the government is reopened. The hits to their savings accounts and marks on their credit scores will serve as painful reminders that they are represented by a government that will put them in harm's way over a policy dispute.

Fran, a newlywed with a premature baby who spent more than 3 weeks in the NICU, has been without an income since her husband's paychecks stopped coming. Their child requires an expensive special formula due to his premature birth, and her husband is now being asked to work overtime without pay.

The fear and anguish in these messages from our neighbors is palpable. It should resonate with every Member of this body. These stories should keep all of us up at night. If we didn't come to Washington to serve these dedicated and hardworking Americans, then just who are we here to serve?

When the government does eventually reopen, fortunately, many of these Federal employees will receive backpay, but the plight of Federal contractors is worse. The term ``Federal contractors'' can conjure up an image of highly paid executives or CEOs of private detention facilities, but they are not the real ones harmed by the shutdown.

Federal contractors are generally small businesses, cleaners, builders, food service workers, and tech support workers. They are our neighbors who rely on these contracts to make their rent or pay their employees or contribute to our local economies.

The callousness with which these Federal contractors are being treated is repulsive. They and their families deserve so much better. The American people deserve so much better.

The longer the Senate Republicans keep our government shut down, the worse things will get.

The Small Business Administration has already stopped approving loan assistance and guarantee applications from commercial banks and small businesses, programs that are critical to the health of local economies.

Security lines at the airports are long, and they will get longer. TSA has already been forced to close security lanes at major airports across the country. This is not because the hardworking men and women of the TSA do not want to keep our skies and our passengers safe, but because they have been forced to take second jobs to pay the rent or look after their children at home because they cannot afford childcare. Without a paycheck, some cannot afford gas or carfare to get to work at all.

Just a few days ago, I met with the air traffic controllers from my district. They shared that not only is the shutdown impacting their current workforce, but it is drastically impacting their recruiting efforts to hire and train new employees for this workforce. Can we blame people for being fearful of taking a job that hinges on the Federal Government's functionality, given what we have seen during this shutdown?

A National Air Traffic Controllers Association official warned recently that if the shutdown continues to drag on, there may not be any air traffic controllers left working.

Let me pause to make those statements abundantly clear. This shutdown is making us less safe. If it continues much longer, there will not be enough employees on duty to make sure passengers are safe to board a plane, not enough employees left to make sure planes are safe to land, and not enough employees to direct air traffic in our skies.

If you think you are insulated from the effects of a government shutdown because you are not a Federal employee, you are wrong.

What I fear this administration and Republican leadership in the Senate have forgotten is that this is the people's House. We have an obligation to work for them. Refusing to uphold that commitment, that promise, is a slap in the face to the American people.

Before I conclude, let me share with you one final story of how the shutdown is harming American families.

Jessica from my district is a mother of six with a special needs child. Her husband is Active Duty Coast Guard. She has been forced to tell her children they can't have seconds at dinner, because she doesn't know if she will have enough food to last the week. Her daughter has an ultrasound coming up, and she is unsure if she can afford the specialist copay.

She writes that she and her husband supported President Trump, but that after this, she does not see ``how we could support someone so out of touch and willing to damage so many people in order to save his own face.''

Jessica ended her message by saying that they are prepared to stand strong, but she is also prepared to stand at the corner of an intersection with a cardboard sign if that is what she has to do to feed her children.

This is not the America I was raised in.

Let's end the shutdown today and get our country back on track.

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Ms. SCANLON. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I understand the frustration of the gentlewoman from Arizona with the lack of progress in ending this shutdown, but I would suggest that her frustration is misdirected.

The House has sent seven bills to end the shutdown to the Senate, and the Senate leadership has refused to entertain any of them or bring them to a vote: #whereismitch.

Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Golden).

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Ms. SCANLON.

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Ms. SCANLON. Madam Speaker, I am surprised to hear my colleague talk about political theater. We have a reality-show President in the White House who is ignoring the real lives impacted by the shutdown, all to try to make another made-for-TV moment to please his rightwing base and radio pundits. Government isn't a game. Real lives are at stake, and we need to reopen the government.

Madam Speaker, may I inquire if the gentlewoman has any remaining speakers. If not, I am prepared to close, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. SCANLON. Madam Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Madam Speaker, I don't know when this shutdown will end, but I know that Democrats and all the Republicans who are serious about getting Federal employees back to work will vote in favor of this rule and the underlying resolution.

I am heartened by my colleagues from across the aisle who have already voted to reopen the government, and I am hopeful that even more will join us this time around.

No serious person can claim that any Member of this House is against border security. Not only have we sworn an oath to protect and defend this country, but we have voted repeatedly to fund billions of dollars in border security appropriations.

The discussion about the best methods for protecting our border is a valid policy question that should be debated thoughtfully and deliberately by both sides of the aisle, not used as a vehicle for the President to fulfill a campaign promise at the expense of American families.

It cannot be overstated: this is the longest government shutdown in history. The House has done its job. We have passed bills to reopen the government on bipartisan votes and will continue to do so for as long as it takes.

We have committed to working on solutions to border security once the government is opened back up. The votes are there in the Senate. They have already shown that. And given the chance, I am sure they would show it again.

Why won't Senator McConnell bring to the floor any one of the House- passed bills to open the government?

I will end by saying this: Senator McConnell, do the right thing for working families in your State, in my State, and across the country. Hold a vote to open the government.

Let's end the pain American families and businesses are feeling from the shutdown and get to work on making this country a better place for all.

Madam Speaker, I urge a ``yes'' vote on the rule and the previous question.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.

The previous question was ordered.

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