Apr 07 2011
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today blasted the White House and Senate Democrats for refusing to take up legislation to fund the government for an additional week to prevent a government shut down as negotiations continue over a longer term measure and provide resources for the nation’s military through the remainder of the fiscal year (FY). The House passed the measure earlier today.
“Because the Democrats in this chamber will not accept the modest spending reductions in H.R. 1, the House took up and passed H.R. 1363 today. This is a continuing resolution that will fund the government for a week, prevent a shutdown, and fund the Department of Defense through the end of the year, making sure that our servicemen and women receive their paychecks and that our national security is not compromised,” said Hatch in a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon. “The ball is in the court of this body’s leadership. The President has now made it clear that he is willing to shut down the government rather than pass this CR. They have issued a Statement of Administration Policy suggesting that they will veto this CR if passed. If the President wants to go off this cliff, I can’t stop him. But I would encourage my Democratic colleagues here that they don’t need to follow him off that cliff.”
Below are Hatch’s full remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon:
Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1363, a one week continuing resolution that will pay our troops and keep the government running. It is a pretty sad commentary on the willingness of the White House — and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle — to get serious about spending, that we have even arrived at this point.
We need to be clear about a few things in this debate. First, we are here because Democrats did not do their job last year. Among the most basic responsibilities of Congress — in fact its core constitutional responsibility — is to take up and pass a budget and fund the core functions of the government for the year.
Last year, Democrats had the majority in the House of Representatives. They had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. And, of course, they had the White House. But they were so tied up with pressing matters like passing a $2.6 trillion dollar health care bill that the American people did not want, that they never got around to passing a budget. And then in the fall, as the bottom fell out of public support for the Democrats, they were too interested in salvaging their majorities and trying to spin Obamacare that they never funded the government.
So that is why we are here. We are debating a spending bill for FY 2011. It is April of 2011. FY 2011 started in October of last year.
It is very simple. Democrats did not do their job. And so they left it to the new Republican majority in the House to fund the government for FY 2011. The Republican-led House got to work. They passed H.R. 1.
Now I know that it is in the Democratic talking points to call this bill extreme, but what exactly did it do? When you strip away the ideology and the rhetoric about this so-called dangerous and extreme bill, what exactly did it do?
Here’s what it did. It reduced non-defense discretionary spending by $61 billion.
That is a big number, but let’s put this in perspective. This year we are scheduled to spend $207 billion just on interest on the debt. This year we have a projected budget deficit of one-thousand six-hundred billion. And this year, the federal government is on pace to spend three-thousand eight-hundred billion. So H.R. 1 was proposing $61 billion in reduced spending by a federal government on pace to spend three-thousand eight-hundred billion dollars.
You all have heard the old joke. When someone is asked if they got a haircut, they respond I got them all cut. Well, in this case what the Republicans are proposing is like going to the barber and getting just one of the hairs on your head trimmed.
The Democrats call this bill draconian. But as one person put it, the spending reductions in this bill are equivalent to ordering a Big Mac, a large Coke, and a large fry, and then eating the whole Big Mac, drinking the whole Coke, eating 98 of the 100 fries in the bag, taking a bite of the ninety-ninth fry, and then leaving the rest. That is hardly a crash diet.
But to hear Democrats talk, Americans would starve if H.R. 1 passed. That is not an exaggeration. Former Speaker Pelosi suggested as much just yesterday.
To hear Democrats talk, this is Armageddon. To hear them talk, this $61 billion in spending reductions is so onerous, America will never be the same.
Well, Americans aren’t buying it. The people of Utah, and people around the country, understand that if the Senate were to accept the full $61 billion in spending reductions, life would not only go on. No one would notice any difference at all.
Let’s look at this a different way. Non-defense discretionary appropriations have been hiked up by 24 percent in the last two years, and 84 percent if you count the stimulus bill. But to hear Democrats talk, even beginning to roll back this explosion in government spending is akin to shredding the Declaration of Independence. Give me a break.
The bottom-line is that the cuts in H.R. 1 are more than reasonable. People who are remotely serious about reducing the size of government should accept them in full.
But the White House, and their Capitol Hill allies, do not seem to have gotten the message that Americans want to roll-back spending. Instead, they are playing politics.
They have calculated that if the government shuts down — if Senate Democrats refuse to pass and the White House refuses to sign — a bill to reduce spending, the Republicans will be left holding the bag. They think that history will repeat itself, and just as in 1995, the public will blame Republicans for a government shutdown. Even the New York Times might not be able to carry that much water for the President and his Democratic allies.
The American people get this, and they are saying enough is enough. If the White House and its Capitol Hill allies think they can force a government shutdown and blame Republicans, they must have zero respect for their constituents. The last week of negotiations has proven yet again that big spending is in the Democrats’ DNA.
They are congenitally incapable of reducing government spending, so much so that they’re even willing to shut down the government.
In the words of John Blutarsky, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But when the going got tough on these negotiations, the Democrats were missing in action. The President jetted off to a couple of fundraisers.
And his Capitol Hill allies turned to the rankest of political smears. The incoming chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, who until about five minutes ago was scolding Republicans for their lack of civility, hit the ground running and claimed that the Budget proposed by House Republicans for next year is a death trap for seniors and a tornado through nursing homes. So much for an adult conversation.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was quick to fundraise off of these spending fights. In an email to their dare-I-say extreme base, they claimed that Republican negotiators are engaged in blackmail and blamed Tea Party citizens for the shutdown, rather than the Democratic leadership that refuses to pass the FY 2011 spending bill and move on.
I’ll tell you what. They might have an easy time raising money by smearing conservative Republicans and blaming them for this mess.
But this is fool’s gold, because they are going to have a heck of a time explaining to our men and women in uniform why it is that they refused to pass a bill that would make sure they are paid.
Because the Democrats in this chamber will not accept the modest spending reductions in H.R. 1, the House passed H.R. 1363 today. This is a continuing resolution that will fund the government for a week, prevent a shutdown, and fund the Department of Defense through the end of the year, making sure that our servicemen and women receive their paychecks and that our national security is not compromised.
The ball is in the court of this body’s leadership. The President has now made it clear that he is willing to shut down the government rather than pass this CR. They have issued a Statement of Administration Policy suggesting that they will veto this CR if passed. If the President wants to go off this cliff, I can’t stop him. But I would encourage my Democratic colleagues here that they don’t need to follow him off that cliff.
Now their leadership is saying that it will oppose H.R. 1363 because it eliminates taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia. In the end, I cannot believe that they would shut down the entire federal government in order to appease the most radical pro-abortion members of their left-wing base.
We will see what happens. Maybe the Senate will do the prudent thing and pass H.R. 1363. But I am not holding my breath.
The $61 billion in spending reductions passed by the House months ago is equivalent to 1.6 percent of total projected federal spending. Americans tighten their belts much more than this every day, but Democrats are acting like these cuts are the end of the world.
I would say that the leadership on display from the White House on this issue is pathetic, if there was any on display at all. Because the White House has showed zero leadership on the issue of spending and government bloat, because it has refused to make the decisions that would force the federal government to live within its means, we are in this unacceptable situation of a potential government shut down. Our nation is broke – we have to stop spending money we don’t have.
But on this most critical of issues the President has been missing in action. His advisors seem to be treating this exercise like it is a Harvard Law seminar in multi-party dispute resolution. This situation calls for leadership, but we are getting nothing from the White House. It’s time for real leadership that keeps the government running while cutting spending.
I urge the Senate to adopt H.R. 1. In the alternative, we should adopt a short-term CR. There is no need for a government shutdown.
Democrats who think that clever strategists and professional politicos can spin the American people into thinking this is the Republicans’ fault — even though it was the Democrats who walked away from the from the table — should remember last year’s experience with Obamacare.
Reluctant Democrats in the House and Senate were told by the same strategists and professional spinners that Obamacare could be messaged in a way so that it would benefit them. Today there are many former House and Senate members who wish they had not bought that snake oil.
If the government shuts down, no amount of spinning is going to convince Americans that this was the fault of anyone other than the President and Democratic congressional leadership who have refused to make any meaningful reductions in federal spending.