tv U.S. Senate Sens. Mazie Hirono Roy Blunt on Govt Shutdown CSPAN January 22, 2018 12:48am-1:11am EST
c-span radio app. announcer: the senate returns at 10:00 a.m. monday morning to continue work on funding the government. with the vote set for noon eastern on a temporary, three weeks spending bill. now, a look at some of the senate floor debates from sunday. s consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: mr. president, when donald trump was a private citizen during the last government shutdown, he said, and i quote, problems start from the to be, and they have to get solved from the top. and the president is the leader and he's got to get everybody in a room and he's got to lead. that's what donald trump said when he was citizen trump. he is now the president. now that he's the president, he has those shoes to wear, he refuses to step into them and step up. the only person to have actually said maybe we need a good shut down-is president trump. although i have to say recently,
the office of management and budget director mick mulvaney also said it was cool to shut down the government. unbelievable, definitely not cool. this attitude may explain why the president keeps shooting down bipartisan efforts to prevent a shutdown. republicans control the house and the senate. i don't know why we have to keep reminding republicans that they control the house and the senate. there is no reason for the majority leader and the speaker to enable -- this trump shutdown to continue. there is no reason to wait on the president to tell them to do whatever or tell them what he believes because donald trump is a changeling. he is unable of being consist sentst tent. i witnessed this weeks ago when
i went to the white house to find a path forward to protect the dreamers. during the meeting in front of all of us and an national tv for over 50 minutes, donald trump promised to sign whatever bipartisan compromise that congress came up with. he said he'd take the heat. we had barely driven back to the capitol before he went back on that promise. this pattern repeated on friday when the democratic leader discussed a broad bipartisan compromise with the president to keep the government open. and after agreeing to -- or appearing to agree on a framework, the president shortly thereafter said no once again. this is donald trump's shutdown. it's important to understand who is responsible for his shutdown. he himself said it's the president who's supposed to be bringing everybody together. but frankly it's more important to end the shutdown.
it's time for congress to lead. congress is a separate branch of government, and we should start acting like it. we can come to a broad bipartisan agreement on nearly every part of a deal to end this shutdown. we can reauthorize the children's health insurance program that provides health insurance to 9 million children all across the country. we can fund community health centers that provide health care for hundreds -- literally hundreds of millions of people in our communities. we can protect the dreamers. we can fully fund the department of defense and provide funding parity for critical domestic programs. congress shouldn't wait around for the president to make up his mind. let's do our jobs. i support passing a very short-term funding bill, somewhere between one and three
days, which we have proposed, to sustain the urgency in getting this done in a shorter time -- in as short a time as possible. so a multi-week extension of government funding that allows the president, the majority leader and the speaker to kick the can down the road and pit one group against another is not the way to go. the republicans continue to pit the children's health insurance program against dreamers. they pit funding for troops against dreamers. pitting one group after another on and on. are the republicans saying we can only take care of one group or the other? do we cut off the right arm or the left arm? we've seen this pitting one group against another strategy at work all week. authorization for the children's health insurance program expired september 30 -- months ago.
but the majority leader waited until now to put it up for a vote because he hoped to use it as leverage to divide democrats and leave dreamers out in the cold, pitting one group against another. and just as a reminder, guess who spent months and months trying to take away health care from millions of americans and more months to provide the richest 1% of people and corporations in our country huge tax cuts all behind closed doors? the republicans, that's who. we could have and should have funded the children's health insurance program months ago. we could have come to a compromise on dreamers months ago. the majority leader has come to the floor repeatedly to argue there is no urgency to protect the dreamers or the daca participantsment, that we have months to find a solution.
doesn't he know that more than 16,000 people have lost their daca protections since donald trump cruelly and cynically ended the program in september? and every single day 122 did a croix recipients lose their statistic -- daca recipients lose their status. these young dreamers are scared of being kicked out of the only country they know and love. that is the united states of america. over the past few days, we've heard the president and the majority leader continuously disrespecting these inspiring young people by referring to them as illegals. that's how you take away an individual's humanity, by categorizing them as one group or another, as illegals. i've met many of these daca recipients. they are not illegals.
they frankly are legally protected under the daca program to be in the united states. they want to make a contribution to the only country that they know. america. dreamers like leonardo from oregon who came to my office in late december to share his immigrant story and why he's fighting to be able to stay in the united states. leonardo came to our country with his siblings and his mom who was fleeing an abusive marriage. growing up, leonardo hardly saw his mom, who took public transportation to work the nightshift and slept most of the day. he told me as he's gotten older and he had to work so hard to make ends meet, he truly appreciates the sacrifices his mom made to make sure he had food and clothes. like many high school students, he groomed -- he dreamed of going to college.
he saw athletics as a path to pursue his dreams. leonardo got a scholarship offer from a small school but at precisely the moment he thought his dreams came through, he learned the school was unable to full i will its promise because leonardo was undocumented. put yourself in his shoes. his heart was broken. leonardo's life changed when he was able to sign for daca. he enrolled in community college to study chemistry and those become a pharmacist one day. leonardo told me that daca doesn't just allow him to access a better quality of life. he said it changed how he values himself as an individual and person, that he was more than his status. that he was a human being. not an illegal, that he was a human being. when i asked him why he came all this way to share his story, he said -- i quote him, "what we're
doing here really encompasses what it means to be an american. the idea that we have to fight for justice, that we have to fight for dignity, that equality surpasses any status, that our humanity surpasses any status." thank you, leonardo. i agree. this is a pivotal moment for congress. are we going to continue to bend to the whims of an unpredictable, mercurial and unreliable president? or will we come together on a bipartisan basis, behave like the separate brage of government that we are -- separate branch of government that we are and reauthorize the children's health insurance program, fund community health centers, protect dreamers, and provide parity for defense and domestic programs in a long-term budget deal? i respect my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
what i don't respect is holding up this process, knowing full well that we can come up with a bipartisan way in three, two days, even one day to end this shutdown. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, one of the unusual things about the moment we find ourselves in is that we're debating an virtually all fronts on topics that 70% of the senators agree on. when you look at the appropria
appropriating bill, at least 70 senators are for the children's health insurance program, maybe 90, maybe more than that. it is a widely supported program. nobody really believes that the obama taxes in obamacare on medical device taxes every made any sense or the so-called cadillac tax, where if you've worked hard and in many cases worked and negotiated an insurance coverage package, that now the government says is better than it should be, that you should pay taxes on that or that everybody should pay an individual tax on their health care. nobody is for that. surely everybody wants the government's doors to stay open. and so on that front, one of the major criticisms of stopping the continuing resolution from going on is that nobody is opposed to
it. so using it totally as leverage on an issue that we all -- that we also almost all agree on. you know, these kids who came here as kids -- and i have met a mum of them, as you have, mr. president, and one of the first questions i often ask is well, how old were you when your parents brought you here? the answer is often 18 months, two, three, followed by something like, now i work at an architectural firm or us just graduated from college. but they clearly grew up in this country. we all get that. this is not a hard problem to solve, i don't believe. but leverage has somehow become the big issue here. first of all, we let the appropriations process collapse. where only a few people have anything to say about how we spend our money. and then we decided we're going to let the whole legislating
process collapse. way too much time being spent on confirming people that there's no opposition to. and then the very people, our friends on the other side, like the democratic leader, who insist on 30 hours of debate or 8 hours of debate where there is no debate and all you do is use up that time so nothing else can happen, says why can't we debate this issue? well, we could debate this issue if we just hadn't spent an entire week confirming four district judges. these are not four supreme court judges and they're not four circuit judges that appeal from the district court. we spent an entire week last week doing nothing but that. and these judges were all confirmed. we all knew they were going to be confirmed on monday when they were all confirmed by the end of the week. but we spent the whole week doing that. and then the same people that insisted on that wonder why we don't have time to debate the issues that we'd all like to
debate. mr. president, i would have liked to have seen the children's health insurance bill debated, but we ran out of time. we're now beyond the time when the bill expires. states are beginning to have stress on that. i would have loved to have seen a debate there and i'd love to see that debate exclude expanding excellence in mental health to a few more states. i would have loved to have seen that debate include the expansion we need in community health centers. but we didn't have time for that. we were spending needless time confirming people that were ultimately going to be confirmed. you remember, the rules on this, mr. president, 30 hours of debate on the floor. if anybody insists on it for a district judge or for a circuit judge, rather. 30 hours of debate. so there are only so many hours in a week. and we are wasting those hours. that rule has to change.
and if we can't change it one way, my guess is that eventually the frustration will become so great we change it another. so we find ourselves here in a government shutdown with no disagreement on what we're talking about. just to treat, to show who is running the senate. well, the majority at the end of the day is going to run the senate. that's what always happens. and if our friends on the other side want to run the senate, they need to get in the majority. but this will not be the way they get there. my good friend, the senator from hawaii, she and i have a common health issue with kidney cancer, we both lost a kidney, and that's a pretty binding sort of thing. when i say i care about her a lot, i do. but she said how dare people talk about kids who were brought here illegally as people who came here illegally. i think a great disservice was done to the daca kids when the other side decided they wanted to make them a focal point on a
debate that they have nothing to do about. and don't act surprised that other people are going to come to a conclusion of what's the weakest point in the argument for daca kids, the weakest point is every one of them came to the country illegally. now they were brought illegally, but every one of them came to the country illegally. and we need them. they grew up here. they went to school here. we need that vital, strong population as part of a growing economy. 70% of the country if not 80% agrees with that. this is an issue that could be solved. but we see the further deterioration of how we spend our money. the appropriations process, for a decade now has been to where it comes down to one big bill at the end that almost nobody had anything to say about. certainly has strengthened leadership on both sides. it's weakened membership on both sides. i don't think the leaders want
the power that they've gotten through this wrecked process. for 200 years we appropriated our money by bringing the bills to the floor. i imagine initially there may have been one bill. in recent years there have been a dozen. one or two at a time on the floor, and every member in the house and every member of the senate could propose any amendment they wanted to as long as it was about spending and it didn't add any money. we haven't seen this enough time in recent years that people even hardly can remember the process in the senate. though the house has rediscovered it where a bill comes to the floor and you say, no, i think we ought to spend $1 million here more than we're spending. and i'd propose we do that by cutting this other category by $1 million. and then all the members vote. we're never going to have that debate this year, mr. speaker -- mr. president. the speaker saw the debate on the other side, we're never going to have that debate here because starting a decade ago
roughly the leader of the senate, the democratic leader of the senate decided we're not going to bring those bills to the floor unless they're unamendable. and even four and five years ago when -- i think my math is right here -- barbara mikulski, great senator from maryland, an incredible legislator, had become the chairman of the appropriations committee for the only two years in her career, and she aggressively argued with the leadership on her side all the time, let's bring these bills to the floor and debate the bills. let's not have one big bill at the end of the year. or even worse, one big bill four, five, six months into the next year. we have to figure out how to recapture the process of our responsibility. this is, this works. it includes the members and the people they work for in a way that we are not now included.
the debate of how we spend our money becomes public in ways that it is not now public. we can't bring a bill to the floor in the senate, an appropriations bill without 60 members being willing to debate the bill. now one way we could do this is just figure out how to change to where an appropriations bill, maybe all bills don't take 60 members just to debate the bill. because once -- i'm a believer that once you got these bills started and once you started debating them and once members got to see that their own amendment wasn't nearly as popular as they thought it might be, that we would then get to the final vote, we'd pass a bill, maybe a package of a couple of bills, the house would do the same. we'd have a conference. it would go to the president's desk. he'd sign those bills and that part of the package is funded for the next year. for year after year where virtually nothing is funded on
december 30 for the october 1 fiscal year. and here we are january 21 already still talking about work that should have been completed in september, it is unacceptable. if we can't see this moment where we're debating two big issues that everybody agrees on the component parts of both of those big issues, if we can't see this as a moment where we need to fundamentally change how we get this work done, we may have lost the constitutional responsibility that the congress has to set our priorities based on how we spend our money. the one thing i know for sure, mr. president, is how we decide to spend our money is not the way we're deciding the best way to do it is not the way we're doing it now. and it's now led to where it's not even a late year fight about well, we're defense -- and i think defense is the principal reason for the federal government to exist, the
number-one priority of the federal government is to support the common defense. but we've gone beyond i want more money for defense, and before i do that i'd like to have more money -- i'd like to see us have more money for something else as well to -- it's not even about the appropriations bill. we're not even going to give you a number to appropriate to on the appropriations bill. we don't fund the government now until we do something that has nothing to do w-l funding the government. maybe that's the logical conclusion of years of bad behavior. maybe that's the logical conclusion of thinking you can hide the work of the congress behind a massive bill that nobody understands, that everybody says i want to be in that massive bill that nobody understands either. and i believe one of the issues that was debated the last few hours was we want to put our bill that would help daca kids on a bill that must pass.
we're not, we'll not be happy unless our bill as we guarantee it gets on another bill that would have a better chance of passing than our bill. what we need is a daca bill that can pass on its own. surely you can take a 70% or 80% issue and combine it with another 70% issue of people who believe we ought to do a better job securing the border and managing people who have come into the country in other ways as well. surely you can take those two issues and find a way to put them together in a bill that winds up on the president's desk. but there appears to be a little confidence in that and frankly little confidence in the way we appropriate money. this is an out raeublgs -- outrageous place to be and you and i and other members of the senate and members of the house need to figure out what we do to
convince our colleagues that rules need to change or behavior needs to change so that everybody has an opportunity to talk about the priorities of the government, how those are funded and so that we also have time to get to the important debates that we'd all like to be part of. i hope we can reach a conclusion quickly. people deserve for their government to be open. people deserve for the very opening of the government not to be held hostage to things that have nothing to do with appropriating money but everything to do with a congress that no longer works the way that the american people deserve to see it work. and i hope, mr. president, we find a conclusion quickly and let the doors of the government be open to the people the government is supposed to serve rather than those very doors to be used as a leverage because legislators couldn't figure out how to legislate.er: the seto