Mr. STEWART. Mr. Speaker, this is a frustrating time in Washington. For the first time in 17 years, our government has been shut down. I believe the political gridlock is at a discouraging high mark. I empathize with those who are feeling its devastating effects, especially those hardworking people who have been affected by furloughs, including some members of my own family.
So I rise today in defense of the American people and I ask one simple question: Why won't the President and Harry Reid sit down and talk to us? The American people are hurting. They want to see progress. They want to see us work and fix this in a bipartisan way. So why won't the President and the Senate leader sit down and engage us in a simple conversation? What are they afraid of?
The President of the United States is the President of all of the people. He is not just the President of the Democratic Party. He is not just the President of those States in which he won. He is the President of the United States. He is the President of everyone. He owes it to the American people to listen to their voices. So let me ask again, what is he afraid of? Why won't he sit down and talk with us?
I represent more than 700,000 people in my home State of Utah. They want the government to stay open, but they do not want ObamaCare. They know what a horrible piece of legislation it is. They know and they already see that it is destroying jobs. They know it is hurting working families. They know that it is driving up costs. They want the President to know this. They want Harry Reid to listen to their concerns, but both of them refuse to talk to us.
So let me ask again, what are they afraid of? Are they afraid that they might be actually convinced that we are right? Are they afraid that they might have to compromise just a little? I am the father of six children. I know what it is like to have teenagers in the house. I know what happens when they get angry because they don't get their way. They run to their bedroom, they slam the door, and they refuse to come out and talk.
Mr. Speaker, it is time for our President to take out his ear buds, to open the door, to come out and talk to us. He has canceled his trip to Asia. But I ask why, for what purpose, if he still refuses to come out and talk to us.
My goal throughout the last several weeks has been to find a way to fund the government operations, other than ObamaCare, and to avoid a government shutdown. But once again, unfortunately, President Obama and Senator Reid have expressed no willingness, no willingness at all to compromise.
We have to understand that we are engaged in a generational fight over our debt and spending as it goes far beyond ObamaCare. Our current national debt is approaching $17 trillion, and it is growing every moment. During this administration, we will more than double our national debt; but it doesn't just end there. This is about the reach of government into our lives, with ObamaCare just being one example of how our government has grown too large and too powerful. In addition, this law will come with something like a $1.3 trillion price tag. That is something that we simply can't afford.
It is critical that we work together now to reduce the size and the power of government in our lives. House Republicans have repeatedly come to the table to negotiate over the past several weeks. So once again I ask, what are they afraid of? Why won't they sit down and talk to us? As a former President, one of my heroes, John F. Kennedy said, let us never fear to negotiate.
Mr. Speaker, I will continue to do everything in my power along with my other colleagues to find a solution to reopen the government while fighting to make Washington, D.C., less important and less powerful in the lives of American citizens.