Reed Discusses Continuing Resolution to Prevent Unnecessary Government Shutdown
REED: Madam President, many of us in this Chamber, on both sides of the aisle, work hard to govern responsibly, and we are deeply frustrated by those who are deliberately attempting to shut down the Federal Government.
A fringe element of extremist House Republicans has pushed Congress to the brink of another costly, wasteful shutdown. A government shutdown of any duration would harm hard-working Americans and our economy. Shutdowns cost taxpayers billions of dollars per week. They cost businesses money. They could even cause a downgrade to the Nation's credit rating, and they force an unnecessary disruption of many vital services.
Federal workers in all 50 States who perform essential work, like food inspectors, TSA agents, or park rangers, would stop getting paychecks. A Federal shutdown can halt projects and cause Federal lending to cease. Clinical trials and research at the NIH could be forced to stop. Effective programs like the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program would be left in a vulnerable state.
As for national defense, a government shutdown would be extremely damaging; and in the midst of the blockade of key military promotions, it would be another Republican-inflicted wound.
A shutdown could halt our munitions production lines as it did in the 2013 shutdown. This would be very shortsighted--very shortsighted--at a time when we are focused on ramping up munitions production for Ukraine and with an eye on future needs in the Indo-Pacific. There are several other areas where a shutdown would be harmful.
I urge my colleagues to consider the impacts of a shutdown on our military men and women, their families, and our defense civilians. Hundreds of thousands of troops could see delays in their paychecks, and many civilians could lose their contracts. If the shutdown extends, the Defense Department will have to reduce its recruiting, training, and family movement activities.
A shutdown would also include delaying needed investments in military infrastructure, including barracks and childcare centers. Dozens of new projects would not go forward.
This would prevent the Defense Department from effectively modernizing and investing in new programs. There could be no new starts in acquisition programs or military construction projects. Hundreds of new start efforts in procurement and R&D would be prohibited during a government shutdown. As such, the Department could be forced into funding legacy systems that are outdated and inefficient. That is simply congressionally mandated waste.
As Gen. C.Q. Brown, the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said about a shutdown, ``All the money in the world cannot buy more time; time is irrecoverable, and when you are working to keep pace against well-resourced and focused competitors, time matters.'' We could easily avoid this outcome by passing a short-term patch while we continue working toward a broader funding agreement.
I commend the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee--Senator Murray and Senator Collins--who hammered out the bipartisan continuing resolution before us, and also the leadership on both sides of the aisle. They have successfully reported out all 12 funding bills-- Senator Collins and Senator Murray--by wide bipartisan votes so that our appropriations process is working on a bipartisan basis and working on a reasonable and responsible basis. In fact, seven of these appropriations bills were voted out unanimously.
They are well-crafted and free from policy poison pills.
They fit within the bipartisan agreement among the chair, the vice chair, and the leaders on overall funding levels. More importantly, those bills meet the funding level that Speaker McCarthy demanded as the price of preventing the default of the U.S. Government just this summer.
We should pass these bills, and we could pass them but for the objections of some Republican Senators who are working in concert with the House to obstruct the appropriations process from moving forward on a bipartisan basis. Their wanton nihilism is damaging our country.
But we have before us a continuing resolution, or a CR, which, barring any dilatory tactics, should clear the Senate by a wide margin. I want to emphasize that this CR is nothing more than a patch. For a few more weeks, it keeps the government open; it keeps the aviation system operational and funded; it keeps the Flood Insurance Program authorized; it ensures that we will continue to take care of disaster victims throughout the country; and it will ensure that the Ukrainian people have the resources they need to win their fight for freedom.
This is not extravagance; it is the bare minimum. The question is, What will House Republicans do?
After creating a default crisis that brought the entire economy to the brink of disaster in June, they have accomplished virtually nothing. For months, House Republicans have only been able to pass a single funding bill. The rest of their highly partisan bills have been bottled up in committee or blocked from passing on the floor by Republicans themselves.
In the midst of their palace intrigue, House conservatives seem to be trying to one-up each other with one drastic, unpopular, and irresponsible cut after the other. It seems to be a competition over whose unworkable proposal can inflict more pain. Perhaps they mistakenly believe that their extreme ideas are popular or that they will somehow hurt the President.
But who suffers if title I education funding for low-income schools is cut by 80 percent? Who is harmed when 1.3 million low-income individuals are kicked out of the SNAP program and when food assistance for seniors and kids is cut by 14 percent? How do we address the lack of affordable housing when the HOME Investment Partnership is slashed by $1 billion? How does Ukraine win when Congress withholds critical funding? And let me pause here to underscore the significance of funding for Ukraine.
The assistance package the President is seeking for Ukraine will provide much needed military assistance as well as aid to displaced Ukrainians whose cities and towns continue to face indiscriminate bombardment by Putin's forces.
We know, if Putin is successful in seizing Ukraine, he will not stop there. Unless the United States and the international community continue to stand with Ukraine, Putin will continue to look for opportunities to inflict violence and violate the sovereignty and security of our allies and partners around the world. And if Putin succeeds because we have failed to help, our other adversaries and competitors will be emboldened too. Indeed, if Putin succeeds, he will not stop with Ukraine. He will threaten NATO countries.
The bottom line, frankly, is the probability that American military personnel will be engaged in combat goes up. Frankly, one of our major missions should be to ensure, through our efforts, that that probability constantly goes down. We do not want to sacrifice American military personnel needlessly. Congress should send a strong message to Putin that we stand with the Ukrainians as they bravely fight for their homeland.
This is the second manufactured crisis that House Republicans have created this year. First, they threatened to default on our Nation's debt. So President Biden sat down with the Speaker and negotiated an agreement that set spending levels for this year. Now House Republicans are walking away from that agreement and threatening to shut down the government. It won't work. The American people can see this charade, and if there is a shutdown, they will know who is responsible.