Time to Show Leadership

Floor Speech

Date: Oct. 8, 2013
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MESSER. Mr. Speaker, Irish leader Henry Boyle once said:

The most important trip you can make in life is meeting people halfway.

Unfortunately, in this debate, the President and Harry Reid's latest offers are way short of halfway. They won't even come to the negotiating table.

During this shutdown, the Republicans in the House have passed nine bills to fund and reopen vital functions of government. Let me go through some of them for you:

Twenty-five of my Democratic colleagues voted with House Republicans to fund pediatric cancer research. Twenty-three of my Democrats colleagues voted with Republicans to reopen national parks, memorials, and monuments;

Thirty-five of my Democratic colleagues voted with Republicans, honoring our promise to give veterans the benefits they have earned;

Thirty-six of my Democratic colleagues voted with Republicans to pay our National Guard and Army Reserve personnel;

Twenty-three of my Democratic colleagues voted with Republicans to make sure funds are available to provide disaster relief; and

One hundred eighty-nine of my Democratic colleagues voted with House Republicans to provide backpay for furloughed Federal employees.

Each of these are reasonable proposals, yet Harry Reid insists that virtually all of them will not be considered in the Senate, and the President has threatened a veto.

Let me repeat. House Republicans have passed bills to fund pediatric cancer research, reopen national parks, provide benefits to veterans, pay salaries for our National Guard, fund disaster relief programs and other vital services. Dozens of my Democratic colleagues have voted for each of these bills, yet the President and Harry Reid won't budge.

The American people are disappointed in this shutdown--after all, this is not the way government is supposed to work--but the American people are also figuring this out. This shutdown can end if Harry Reid and President Obama meet House Republicans at the negotiating table--but their chairs sit empty.

The American people don't want the President's health care law, but they are ready for this shutdown to end. It's time for both parties to listen to the American people, work out our differences, and find a commonsense way forward.