On Tuesday, after eight days of the federal government shutdown, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, brought to the House floor an opportunity to vote to reopen the federal government, but Republicans blocked her motion from being voted on, denying yet another occasion to end their shutdown.
The motion would have allowed a vote on the Senate funding bill, sending the measure directly to the president’s desk and ending the government shutdown by funding the federal government at the negotiated rate of $986 billion — a level originally proposed by Republicans — until Nov. 15, providing lawmakers the opportunity to reach an agreement on a long-term budget.
“This shutdown could have ended right here, right now if the Republican leadership would have allowed the negotiated Senate spending bill to be voted on by the House of Representatives,” Capps said. “Democrats have already negotiated with Republicans on the budget and struck a very difficult compromise that keeps funding at the sequester level. The Senate has voted on that compromise, but the Republican leadership has continued to kowtow to the irresponsible Tea Party wing of its party and block a vote on it in the House. Instead, they have chosen to hold our government hostage over their obsession to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
"Once again, Tea Party Republicans have blocked our effort today to end this shutdown. It is long past time reopen the federal government so visitors can once again visit our national parks, research institutions can continue their good work, and people can have access to the services they need. Only then can families rest easy that the services they rely on will be restored and Congress can finally go back to work on the issues facing our country.”
As public approval for the Republicans’ handling of the shutdown dwindles, Republican support for a vote on the clean continuing resolution funding bill has grown. More than 20 Republicans have stated publicly that they would support the clean Senate CR to reopen the federal government. Capps, along with 199 other House Democrats, has already sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner demanding a vote on a bill to reopen the government. This would be enough votes to pass the bill in the House and send it to the president.
But instead of allowing that vote to reopen the government Tuesday, the House voted on a short-sighted bill, which would only reinstate portions of the federal government in a piecemeal manner. This approach is a non-starter, condemned by even the program it is supposed to help, and doesn’t solve the country’s budget issues.
Below is text of the speech Capps gave on the House floor Tuesday afternoon.
"Mr. Speaker, I worked for decades in our nation’s public schools, seeing first-hand in my community the tremendous effects Head Start programs have on some of our most vulnerable children.
"No one is a stronger supporter of the program. But today is not really about the children of Head Start.
"Today is about ending the childish behavior of the Republican Leadership who continue to stand in the way of reopening our government.
"Let me be clear, we are here today because one faction, of one party, in one house of Congress shut down the United States government because they don’t like one law, the Affordable Care Act.
"This is a law that was passed by Congress, affirmed by the Supreme Court, and was a focal point of the last election, where the candidate who supported the law won.
"But none of this matters to our Republican colleagues. Instead, they have let their obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act bring our government to a screeching halt.
"Mr. Speaker, this piecemeal approach pushed by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to reopen certain parts of the government is merely a façade, giving the illusion that they are trying to fix the problem. But they are not.
"Instead we find ourselves here, picking and choosing, and waiting for them to decide whose lucky day it is to be funded by the Republican leadership.
"This is not the way to run a great nation.
"Even if we reopen Head Start programs, what about the millions of other students that benefit from programs administered by the Department of Education? What about the families who cannot get their child care vouchers? What about the job training programs to help unemployed parents get back on their feet?
"How long do they have to wait, Mr. Speaker, until we get around to funding their programs? When is their lucky day?
"We cannot continue government funding by picking programs out of a hat.
"If the House leadership really wanted to fix the problem, they could do so today — if they would just bring a clean continuing resolution to the House floor for a vote.
"At least 25 of my Republican colleagues have publicly supported a vote for a clean continuing resolution. This is enough votes to end the shutdown today — we know it, the Speaker knows it and the American people know it.
"But we are still waiting.
"Now let me say it again: This government shutdown doesn’t have to continue. We can end it right now.
"My amendment today is the ninth time that Democrats have provided a solution to end the government shutdown. And it is the only way to get a vote on the clean, negotiated CR today.
"I urge my colleagues on both side of the aisle to take this opportunity to stop wasting time. We must reopen the government and get back to our work — rebuilding our economy, supporting our veterans, passing a farm bill and addressing the many other challenges we face.
"But to do so, we need to stop playing these games.
"Therefore, I urge my colleagues, including my many Republican colleagues who have called for a vote on a clean CR, to join me today and end this charade. I urge a yes vote on this motion and yield back."
— Chris Meagher is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.