Democrats Object to and Block Sen. Paul’s Efforts to Reopen the Federal Government
Oct 9, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rand Paul today joined his Republican colleagues on the Senate Floor to offer a series of unanimous consent requests to reopen the federal government, including funding for the National Institute of Health, the National Park Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL'S SPEECH
SEN. PAUL: Let's be very clear here today. Republicans have come to the floor to reopen government. We've offered request after request to reopen the government. We've offered to negotiate. From the other side, we hear, we will not negotiate. We will not compromise. And we will not reopen the government. We have offered 13 different compromises today to reopen the government. We are willing to open the government, and they say, oh, you must agree to everything or we will open nothing. We will not compromise, and we say to them, why don't we open the parts of government that we agree to? Can we not end this farce of putting security guards in front of the World War II Memorial? My goodness, it's an open park. They spent more money closing it than we spend keeping it open. We spend more money guarding the World War II Memorial than we do protecting our ambassador in Libya. It's become a farce.
85 percent of your government is open. We've offered today to open another 10 percent. Compromise means coming together and voting on some of the things you agree on. Every program that we've wanted to open today--the national parks, NIH, Veterans Affairs, allowing funerals, for goodness' sakes, for our military heroes who have died in action
-- they say we agree to it, but we won't agree to it.
So let's be very clear. Republicans have offered today very specific proposals for opening government. The democrats have uniformly rejected every appeal to open government. So in one of our wounded heroes can't have a funeral, when one of our people cannot be buried in Arlington Cemetery, when a World War II veteran goes to the monument and is barricaded and kept from viewing the monument to celebrate their service, be very clear that Republicans have asked to open the government, and the Democrats have rejected opening it every point. In fact, they're very, very explicit with their strategy. We will not negotiate, they say.
The President says he will not negotiate under pressure. My question is, when will he negotiate? We've had one good thing happen for the American taxpayer in the last five years. The bad thing is $7 trillion have been added to your tab, to your kids' and your grandkids' tab. One good thing happened, and it happened under duress, and it happened with regard to the debt ceiling.
The sequester actually cut the rate of growth of spending. Didn't cut spending, but it's cutting the rate of growth of spending. The sequester happened under duress. The other side loves debt, loves spending, doesn't care how much your kids or grandkids will have. They don't care. They have rejected every compromise. We, what we are saying is $7 trillion of debt under President Obama is too much. The country is struggling. Economists say a million people are out of work because of the economy and because of the debt and because of the burden. And what do they want to do? Heap more debt on your kids and your grandkids.
I say enough's enough. Let's reopen government. Republicans today have said we will open government. Let's open the parts we can agree to. So I ask, Mr. President, unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to consideration of calendar number 207 for House Joint Resolution 70 to open the national parks, to make continuing appropriation for the year 2014, that the measure be read three times and passed and the motion to consider be made and laid upon the table.
SEN. DURBIN: Mr. President, reserving the right to object, it was my understanding that the Senator from Kentucky was going to make a request relative to the Veterans Administration. The request relative to the national parks had been made earlier today. Is the request for the national park service?
SEN. PAUL: Yes. And I can go on. I wanted it to be very clear that you are objecting to funding the national parks, so when people go to the national parks, they know they can call your office; okay? Because we want to open the national parks, and we want to make it very clear that your side is objecting to funding the national parks.
SEN. DURBIN: Reserving the right to object. I would like to clarify a few points relative to statements just made by the junior Senator from Kentucky. The first statement, the Democrats will not negotiate. Well, let me remind the Senator from Kentucky-- and I'm sure he's not forgotten this -- the spending level for the continuing resolution is the Republican spending level, which we agreed to in negotiation. $988 billion on an annual basis. It's the figure that the Republicans placed as part of the negotiations which the Majority Leader agreed to. That was a negotiation which led to that number which Speaker Boehner agreed to. Secondly, this argument by the Senator from Kentucky that the Republicans are here today to open the government, let me at least remind the Senator from Kentucky that it's their failure to pass the Continuing Resolution by the Republican Majority in the House that has closed the government for nine straight days. We passed the Continuing Resolution to keep the government open at Republican spending levels. The House has refused. This is a Republican shutdown. Point number three...
SEN. PAUL: Will the senator yield for a question?
SEN. DURBIN: Well, let me finish my statement, please. I have reserved the right to object, and I have the floor. I'm sorry. I stand corrected. The Senator from Kentucky has the floor. But I can object to his unanimous consent request, is that correct?
SEN PAUL: I will suffer longer.
SEN. DURBIN: The point that I would like to make about the national parks is one that I hope the Senator will understand. We want to open the entire government, including the national parks and other lands, recreation facilities that are owned by the federal government beyond the national parks when it comes to the World War II Memorial that the senator made reference to, I was just there. There were a group of honored veterans from World War II came last week and I met them and they had access to the memorial. The reason there was any restriction was because the Republicans' shut down took the employees away. Here is my offer to the Senator from Kentucky. It is new but it really tells the Senator. I ask consent that your request be modified as follows: That an amendment which is desk be agreed to, that the Joint Resolution as amend be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate, this amendment is the text that has passed the senate. It is a clean continuing, no-strings-attached resolution for the entire government, including the national parks and many other important things. It's something that's already in the House, could be called in a matter of minutes and passed by a bipartisan majority in the House.
SEN. PAUL: I'm not opposed to a clean CR. If we want to have a clean CR at a level at which we can balance the budget, I'm for it. I'm all for it. If you'd accept a modification of a top-line number of $940 billion to replace $988 billion where appropriate throughout the continuing resolution, I can support your unanimous consent for a Continuing Resolution to go back over to the house.
SEN. DURBIN: Does the senator object to my modification?
SEN. PAUL: I am offering a new modification to your modification and ask unanimous consent that you accept for a new top-line number where $98 billion appears throughout the resolution, that if your objective is to have a clean CR, Let's have a clean CR but we need to do it and restrain the growth of government because your party has added so much that our country is drowning if a sea of debt. If you will agree to $940 billion to replace $988 billion where appropriate, I would agree to your consent?
SEN. DURBIN: Holding the floor sufferance of the Senator from Kentucky, I would like to ask him a question without yielding the floor.
SEN. PAUL: Sure.
SEN. DURBIN: When was the last time our federal government had a surplus in the budget and who was the president at that time?
SEN. PAUL: Could I ask for a germane question? Well, we might want to-- part of the question was divided question-- part of the answer. The interesting thing about divided government is that it can work better and more conversation, I think we could get beyond this impasse. And I think if we would negotiate -- and here is the problem. I know now there are some in your party saying you will negotiate but the president said at least 20, maybe 30, maybe 40 times on national television, he will not negotiate until he gets his way, and that's still slings what you guys are saying. You'll negotiate only after you get your way. The problem is, we think that you won't negotiate unless there is a deadline, because the thing is when you finally did negotiate -- and here is my question for the Senator from Illinois through the President is, did you vote for the sequester? The sequester wasn't a Republican bill. It was voted on by many members of your party. The numbers are yours.
SEN. DURBIN: I reserve the right to object to the modification to reduce the topline budget number. This was a number negotiated between Speaker Boehner and the Majority Leader. Speaker Boehner said this was a number that he could pass and since we took a $70 billion cut in the budget resolution that has already passed in the senate, I will not agree to further cuts in the programs
SEN. PAUL: This is objection to the modification of my motion. I object.