Mr. President, when we complete our work today on this issue of FISA, we will be consumed by the issue of the continuing resolution. The need for continued appropriations to keep government functions available to the American people. And I come with a suggestion which I think is based not on politics but upon common sense and perhaps just good business aspect of getting our work done. And my suggestion to my colleagues is that we do not shut down the government. I think the outcome of that is not good and I can list the reasons. I’ve had constituents from time to time tell me, “shut her down, it wouldn’t matter to me,” but I can list the circumstances in which it really does matter to every-day folks in Kansas and across the country. And at the same time force us to do work that we seem seemingly unwilling or unable to complete.
There is a whole list of things that are pending, and they’ve been pending a long time. You and I serve on the appropriations committee and one of things that I think we share is the desire to see that the appropriations process works. And that means that we would do a budget. The Budget Committee would do a budget, the Senate and House would approve the budget. We’d do 12 appropriation bills to fill in the budget space. And we would then be able to prioritize spending; we could increase, reduce or eliminate spending; and we could again send a message to agencies, departments, and cabinets that we have the ability to determine how much money they have to spend, and therefore have the opportunity to influence decisions that are made that affect the American people through the bureaucracy, though the administration in such significant ways.
So the goal here is to keep government functioning – no shutdown – but also to have the discipline necessary to put an appropriations process in place, get us out of a CR. Immigration from DACA to boarder security is certainly a topic for conversation in Congress and negotiations are apparently ongoing issues that need to be resolved. If we are going to make fixes to our immigration system, now is better than later. If border security is important, now is better than later to improve border security. If certainty in people’s lives is important, now is better than later.
Many of us have a concern that we are not adequately funding the defense side. We face many threats from China in the Pacific to Russia and its intrusion from cyber issues that affect our national security to terrorism and the Middle East. If additional money is necessary for our intelligence capabilities and for our national defense, now is better than later. And what may happen here is that we will pass a continuing resolution that takes us weeks into the future and operate under a continuing resolution, or if that’s not possible, nothing may pass for several days and the so-called government shutdown would occur. Here’s what I would ask us to do: let us do a continuing resolution for a day or so at a time, keeping government open. And while we do that, that puts the pressure on negotiations to occur to resolve the variety of issues that are out there today that in all likelihood will be attached to a final resolution. And the question is, do we do it now? Do we force those negotiations to occur and resolution of those issues to happen? Do we force that today by being in a continuing resolution that is a very short period of time? Or do we give ourselves another month to allow the conversations to continue in which in all likelihood if history is any indication a month from now we will be talking about, well, we need another CR while we continue.
The issues are important that are before us, and congress has the habit of delaying resolutions of issues until the moment of crisis arrives. My point: keep the pressure on us today. Do not let us walk away from here now without keeping government open, but do not let us leave the Senate and the Congress until we have resolved the issues in front of us from health care to immigration, from funding, from national defense to domestic spending, to issues related to disaster. The senator who presides today is a senator from Florida. Whether or not we do disaster assistance that is in need as a result of the hurricanes that have caused tremendous damage in Texas and Florida and Puerto Rico. If disaster relief is needed, it’s needed now, not later. So, Mr. President, I raise this topic. I’ve had this conversation with many of my colleagues, and I encourage us to continue to resolve our differences today – they will not be easier tomorrow – and make certain we have an opportunity for us to then deal with the important issues that are still ahead of us outside of any agreement that might be reached in the next several days. Deal with issues that are important. What I would describe as we will be dealing with issues that are normally important to us in May in June will be that May and June will be occupied by the things we should’ve resolved now. And in May and June, we’ll be doing the things we should have done today and will not be taking care of the July issues. Common sense tells me that we can find a solution to the problems if we work at it, but if we allow ourselves to escape from the process today, tomorrow, if we return home, we’ll be back in the same position next week and the week after and the week after that and the week after that that we’re in today.
Mr. President, it is just a simple plea that the United States Senate exhibit some common sense, some good business practices, resolve our differences now, and then let’s take on the next issues that are so important to our country. With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I would note the absence of a quorum.