Government Shutdown

Date: Oct. 1, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I take no pleasure in coming down to the House floor to talk about the government shutting down today.

I represent the metro Atlanta suburbs, Mr. Speaker; and we got a lot of CDC employees in my district. I know everybody has got important Federal functions going on in their district; but I will tell you what the CDC does is honest to goodness life and death business--serious, serious business. I want to see the CDC open, I want to see the CDC funded, I want to see the CDC making America proud, as it has year after year.

We have to look at how we got here today, Mr. Speaker. I have been in Congress 2 1/2 years and the sad fact is in those 2 1/2 years there has only been one time that I felt like the White House gave two hoots what my constituents cared about, just one time. That was in the debt ceiling debate in August of 2011. One time. It was a crisis circumstance, a crisis like a government shutdown--the only time the President came to knock on the door to say how do you think we ought to handle it, how do your 700,000 constituents believe we ought to handle it, how can we come together and make something happen? And we did. We came together, and we made a difference.

Mr. Speaker, I remember coming to this Chamber as a young man. I sat over there, I sat right over there in the gallery, Mr. Speaker. I looked over there on the House floor and there was absolutely no one here. I don't mean not many people here, I mean absolutely no one here. I happened to have the misfortune of being here coming to see the Congress on a day when the Congress was not in session. There wasn't a thing going on.

Mr. Speaker, where we are now in 2013, where the President's new position is, I will never negotiate, period, never, ever; where the Senate's new position is we do not need to have conversations with the House, we have the President of the United States on our team and so we never need to negotiate, ever--Mr. Speaker, if that is what we are going to have here in America, not only should I take my Constitution and toss it out the door, we should just go ahead and turn the lights off altogether. We shouldn't have to have a young man sitting in the balcony wondering why the place is closed down. We should just go ahead and confess that the reason the House no longer meets is because the President no longer cares what the people's House has to say.

Mr. Speaker, I hear it over and over again: it's the law of the land; we should follow it. Now, I happened to hear it in the context of the President's health care bill. I don't hear it in the context of immigration law, for example, where the President just decides what it is that he wants to do, and he just goes out and implements it on his own. I don't hear it in the context of Federal drug law where the President decides, do you know what, these laws aren't as important as those laws so I'm just not going to enforce those anymore. And I don't hear it in the context of the President's health care bill, Mr. Speaker, for the literally thousands of exemptions he has already given to the law because he knows parts of it are unworkable.

Now, we have to confess, Mr. Speaker: America moves in fits and starts. The pendulum swings back and forth. I have to give the President credit for bringing the discussion of health care in this country to a new place. He absolutely did. He brought attention to folks who are uninsured who can't find insurance. Not only did he bring attention to it, Mr. Speaker, really we have created a majority of America that believes we ought to do something and solve that problem.

But instead of solving that problem, the President re-regulated America's entire health care industry. There is not a man or woman in this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, there is not a man or woman representing Americans in the U.S. House of Representatives who doesn't have someone in their district who has lost their health insurance because of the President's health care bill.

If you like your health insurance, you can keep it, was the promise. Do you remember the promise, Mr. Speaker? If you like your health insurance, you can keep it. That promise hasn't just been broken, that promise has been virtually erased from America's memory because tens of thousands of Americans are losing their health insurance. There is a headline in the paper every day, Mr. Speaker.

All we are asking is for the Senate to sit down with us and let's try to solve real problems that real American families are really having today. For all the knowledge that my colleagues have of these citizens in their districts losing their health insurance, they've proffered nothing, nothing.

We have an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, right now before it gets any worse to do better. We should seize that opportunity. We should come together as our constituents expect us to. We have offered that hand to the Senate, Mr. Speaker. I hope they will take it.