tv U.S. Senate Re-air 3 K - Sen. Leahy on Government Shutdown CSPAN December 22, 2018 7:19pm-7:36pm EST
if leader mcconnell, speaker ryan, leader pelosi and i agree on a solution, and the president says he will sign it, we can end the trump shut down immediately. discussions continue among the members of our staff. the republican leader and i will update the senate on the status of those talks. i yield the floor and notice the absence of a quorum. >> the senator from vermont. >> i ask consent to call a quorum. i realize the chair cannot respond, it is good to see my good friend in the chair, normally on a saturday we see each other in the gym, not on the floor. think of which place we would rather be.
today, nine of our 15 departments and several dozen agencies shut their doors. by doing that they have denied vital services to millions of american citizens. , justmidnight last night a few days before christmas more than 800,000 dedicated public servants and their families have been told not to expect their next paycheck for the foreseeable future. there is one reason and one reason only that our federal government has shut down today and countless americans are living with uncertainty. that reason is president donald trump. is holding the federal government hostage for $5 billion of american taxpayer dollars for his unnecessary, ineffective, and expensive wall
on the southern border. incidentally repeatedly promised and gave his word to the american taxpayers that mexico would pay for. now he wants american taxpayers to dig in their pockets and pay for. the president's irresponsible behavior is a sounding -- astounding. his job is to keep the federal government operating for the hundreds of millions of americans who depend on government services every day. tom our national parks housing services for the elderly , the disabled, our veterans. for our nation's farmers. signed the farm bill two days ago. he praised his efforts.
today, he precipitated a shutdown, he shuddered the doors to the u.s. department of agriculture's field offices. the same offices farmers will have to go to to understand this new law. that ist part of all this was completely avoidable. we provided the president with several options to avoid this result. this is a case where he cannot take yes for an answer. we offered six full year appropriations bills. it was a continued resolution for homeland. or a continued resolution for all of the remaining bills. either of these options would have kept the government open. it would have provided more than $1 billion for border security.
the very thing the president says he needs and cares most about. instead of signing them and -- this needless shutdown -- after rejecting both of these offers the senate passed a seven-week continuing voting resolution. to give us more time to negotiate and diver this .atastrophe democrats and republicans came together to pass it and if the president signed it we had a path forward. then fox news, and the right wing media, rush limbaugh started criticizing. ego was bruised,
he reversed course is on what he agreed to. here we are. exactly where the president wanted to be. in the middle of a trump shut down. anyone doubting where the responsibility lies, the president has publicly called for a government shutdown how many times over the past year? no fewer than 25 times. just last week he declared he would be proud to shut down the government. unless we capitulate to his demands. president -- this is one of the
most reckless statements i've ever heard uttered by a president of the united states. begun.mp shut down has how long will it last? who knows. yesterday, the president promised us it would last a long time. then he promised us it would be a short shutdown. even this, his behavior is erratic. this is a legitimate crisis, precipitating a shutdown. is the president playing games with the livelihood of american citizens. in caving to the most extreme base, president trump is throwing what many have described as a childish tantrum. fulfill aoney to
promise he made repeatedly on the campaign trail. prize that abolic central policy solution. a wallsteful wall, incidentally he promised mexico would pay for. not the american taxpayers. this wasteful wall he wants to axpayersthe american t would do more to preserve the president's ego than it would to protect the american people. the natural is result of his years long vilification of immigrants. the presidenthich rallied his base around falsehoods and fantasies where vulnerable women and children are trained as gang members and
terrorists invading our country. the sad reality as all of us , many of these people are fleeing desperate situations. they're not coming to perpetuate violence. they are running from it. there is no crisis that requires us to build a 34 wall between us and our neighbors to the south. the president's hateful rhetoric about the crisis at our southern border does not reflect reality. arrests ofof 2017, people trying to enter the u.s. illegally dropped to historic lows. 2000-2018 border apprehensions fell sharply from 1.6 million in fiscal year 2000
two approximately 400,000 in fiscal year 2018. a 75% drop. not only to the facts not warrant spending billions of american taxpayer dollars on a big, beautiful wall as the president likes to call it. it is not who we are as a nation. we are a country founded by immigrants. just as my maternal grandparents came to vermont from italy, my paternal great-great-grandparents came to vermont from ireland. parents came to vermont from quebec in canada.
we look at our immigrant founding of this country and then we want to wall ourselves off from our neighbors. it is not only an expensive waste of american taxpayers it is init is immoral, opposition of everything this country is supposed to stand for. seizeesident wants to land from farmers in texas and other border states. has been in their family for generations. wallsld need to construct in nature preserves, basically destroying them. we would end up walling ourselves off from the rio grande in the process. essentially ceding the river to mexico. and afterof that
billions of wasted taxpayer dollars, what would it will be stop people from fleeing violence in their home countries?\ no. will it stop traffickers? definitely no. so many have said show me a 30 foot wall and i will show you a 31 foot ladder or a tunnel. to address these complex issues we need real solutions, not bumper sticker solutions or angry tweets. everyone agrees we need to keep our border safe and secure. it has to be smart border security. order security that works. new technology has proven to work on the border at points of entry. additional personnel were needed.
wall is symbolic and unneeded. it, if we needed to build over the past two years congress has provided nearly $1.7 billion to build and replace fencing on the southern border. the administration has hardly spend any of that money. undertakens it has and handled in such a way that they have ballooned in cost. billion,hem the $1.7 they are demanding now more. how much of the $1.7 billion have they spent? 6% of these funds have been spent.
we learned one project that was supposed to cost $445 million will now cost the american taxpayers nearly 787 million. a 77% cost overrun. seemingly you cannot really trust the administration. we trust them to spend the additional money the president is demanding. let's put an end to this nonsense once and for all. we have an easy way of doing it. we can finish six of the seven appropriations bills right now or we could continue to debate the other issues. the bills are the product of a bipartisan compromise.
they provide billions of dollars americances to address people and protect national security. we havex bills that already agreed on, republicans and democrats. they would provide much needed the opioidhelp epidemic and critical investments in infrastructure. crumbling roads, bridges, and highways, they provide resources to protect the environment. the water wee drink and the air we breathe is children and for the next. it supports key allies and national security programs that enable the united states to be a global leader. we are being increasingly challenged by china and russia.
is the president really going to hold the american people hostage and a wall that he time time again promised mexico would pay for? really going to force hundreds and thousands of federal employees, including the very agencies he depends upon to carry out his immigration enforcement policies to work without pay over the christmas holiday? tell millions of americans, including his most ardent supporters that he could care less whether they are cut off from critical government services? president has apparently decided fighting a symbolic fight for a shiny object is more important than keeping our government running for the american people. negotions with chairman
shelby and leader mcconnell continued. i am here this weekend and will talk with members of both parties. to the samecome conclusion. we could agree easily, republicans and democrats. we can only succeed if the president decides to do what we have done and that is put the country first. the president of the united states owes that to the american people. he owes reality. we are approximately 2:30 on a saturday afternoon trying to do the people's business in a situation that nobody wanted. politicalse i believe self-interest we are in a situation right now