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Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to the Republican Government Shutdown

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today urging House Republicans to vote against their legislation that threatens a government shutdown.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Mr. Speaker, this weekend, in the dead of night, the Republican majority had a simple but clear choice to make.  They could make a choice to accept Democrats saying ‘yes’ to them on their budget number, to proceed to the negotiating table to come up with a budget for our country, or they could choose, in the dead of night, to continue like howls, bay at the moon, with, once again, for the 43rd and 44th time, to try overturn the Affordable Care Act.  And what do they choose?  And I say this with great apology to hounds because I love dogs.  They chose baying to the moon.

“It was a sad thing because so much is at stake.  We should all, as Members of Congress, have confidence in what we believe in and debate full throttle the issues that are important to our country and to our constituents.  We shouldn’t take them hostages because of weakness of our ideas.  We should go confidently to the table of policy-making to debate.  But to say: ‘we’re going to shutdown government unless you overturn the law of the land that has been upheld by the Supreme Court and validated by the last election,’ we are going to shutdown the government?

“Now, the decision that they made the other night, they are continuing today, putting on the floor, attempting to put on the floor a resolution that has no possibility of becoming the law.  We, as Democrats say: ‘you have put forth two really unpleasant proposals: one, to overturn the Affordable Care Act; and the other, which in all of this discussion is hiding, the terrible budget bill that they are putting forth, which even their own Chairman says: it does not enable government to function.  It does not even enable us to do the job that we’re here to do for the American people. 

“Two ‘no’s’ do not make a ‘yes.’  Two ‘no’s’ make matters worse.  Democrats are absolutely and totally opposed and determined that we…

[Member sneezes]

“God bless you.

“That we will not shut government down.  We will not be party to shutting government down.  And so we are willing to take your budget figure, with the accompanying six-week opportunity to go to the negotiating table, and develop a bill that will get rid of sequestration and all that harm that it does to our national security and to our investments in the future.

“Take ‘yes’ for an answer.  This debate is about the budget.  Keeping government open is about passing a bill, a continuing resolution to do that.  Don’t be insecure about your own ideas and say: ‘the only way we can prevail is we threaten to shut government down if we don’t have our own way.  If we don’t have our way, we are going to shut government down.’  You and that attitude are a luxury this country cannot afford, cannot afford. 

“And so, again I say: this is an explicit offer to the Republicans in the Congress to agree to your number in this legislation and take the next weeks ahead to come to the table and negotiate – something we should’ve done six months ago.  In March, the Republicans said they wanted regular order.  Regular order means you pass a bill in the Senate.  You pass a bill in the House.  You go to conference.  At least that’s what the book says.  That’s what regular order is.  The Republicans wanted regular order.  That’s what they told the President of the United States in the oval office.  How would you like to see the President say: ‘We want regular order,’ said Mr. Boehner and Leader McConnell. 

“The House passed its budget bill.  Republicans start saying things like ‘no budget, no pay’ to the Senate, the taunt.  The Senate had planned to, and did, pass its budget bill.  That would be the regular order.  Now, we go to the table to reconcile our differences.  The minute the Senate passed its bill, the Republicans abandoned any interest in the regular order.  Why?  Maybe they were afraid that people would see the contrast of what they wanted to do in their budget, compared to the investment in the future, the statement of our national values that our Democratic proposal, under Chairwoman Patty Murray in the Senate and [Congressman] Chris Van Hollen in the House [of Representatives].

“Whatever the reason, for six months they had not wanted to negotiate.  And for six months, they were saying that the President doesn’t want to negotiate.  That they are the ones who have the responsibility under the regular order of the House [of Representatives] to come to the budget table to reconcile our differences.  I salute the President for saying: ‘the full faith and credit of the United States is not negotiable.  We will not default on the debt we have all incurred already.’  So that is over here.  So, when he says: that’s not negotiable, that doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate on the budget, which is in the form of a continuing resolution – a separate issue. 

“So, you could only conclude that insecure because of the poverty of the ideas, or just determined to shutdown government, maybe because they don’t fully understand the consequences of it, the Republicans have come, once again, to the floor, which they know will shutdown government five and a half hours from now, five and a half hours from now. They are baying to the moon, again, or we’ll make the right decision to take ‘yes’ for an answer.  We agree to your number for the purpose of going to the negotiating table.  Our number is what we agreed with you in the Budget Control Act, bipartisan agreement, $1.058 [trillion] versus $986 [billion], an $80 billion dollar comedown. That number was a compromise to begin with.  That wasn’t flush with spending.  It was a compromise to begin with and we are underfunding government.  And that’s not good enough for you to underfund meeting the needs of the American people.  You want to shutdown government.

“So, I would hope that all who think this is not a good idea, will express themselves on the rule because the rule does not allow us to have a vote, a clean vote on your suggestion for the continuing resolution at $986 [billion].  Let’s give the Republicans a vote on their number.  Let’s give the Republicans a vote on their proposal.  And let’s do it in a way that is clean and does not place in doubt whether government will be open in the morning to meet the needs of the American people. 

“I hope that in the previous question that enough people will reject what the Republicans are putting forth, and certainly on the rule we can do that.  Otherwise, we’ll go to time and time again, 45 times to vote to undermine the Affordable Care Act.  Instead, we could’ve passed an the immigration bill.  We put a pass on a bill to make sure we have background checks for people who are legally able to purchase guns – to make sure that they are.  God willing, we pass legislation creating jobs [and] investing in the future for our country. 

“But all of these things can be the legitimate, not all, but the stuff about the jobs initiatives and investing in the future of the legitimate debate of priorities that is the budget debate.  And that’s what I hope that the Republicans will allow, something they asked for, the regular order, something they asked for, the $986 [billion] in the bill, something I think we all want: keeping government open.

“With that, I urge a ‘no’ vote on the rule and yield back the balance of my time.”

[Applause]