WASHINGTON, DC — On the House Floor today, Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) led passage of a rule to consider a package of six pre-conferenced spending bills negotiated between the House and Senate Appropriations Committees last Congress and a bill to reopen the Department of Homeland Security through February 28th. Taken together, these bills would reopen the entire federal government and finally bring an end to the Trump Shutdown, which is in its 33rd day. Highlights of Chairman McGovern’s remarks are included below and video of his full speech is available here.
“M. Speaker, we are on day 33 of the Trump Shutdown, the longest government shutdown in American history. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers will miss a paycheck for the second time since the president plunged us into this mess.
“The very people who keep our nation safe are struggling to put food on the table. People like men and women in the Coast Guard, FBI agents, border patrol officers, and TSA agents. Makeshift foodbanks are being opened across the country to help these workers and their families get by.
“Right outside our nation’s capital in Northern Virginia, some federal workers waited more than an hour recently at a local food bank. Demand was so high that a tenth of the food was gone in the first five minutes.
“Because of the president’s shutdown, 15 million households could see a gap in their monthly SNAP benefits that lasts more than 40 days. Four million low-income households could see a gap that lasts more than 50 days. This program is their lifeline, M. Speaker. These families don’t have a Plan B.
“I have given weekly End Hunger Now speeches on this floor since February of 2013. I’ve made clear time and again that hunger is a political condition. We have the resources. We know what it takes. We just have to have the will to do something about it.
“It embarrassing enough that the wealthiest nation on the planet has an ongoing hunger crisis. But I never could have imagined that a president of the United States would exacerbate it like this.
“It’s the president’s bruised ego that keeps a quarter of our government closed today.
“His latest so-called compromise proposal isn’t really a compromise at all. In fact, it brings new meaning to the word “cruel”.
“Not only does it fail to provide a permanent solution for the Dreamers or TPS recipients, it only covers a fraction of eligible Dreamers and excludes TPS holders from Asia and Africa. And it re-writes the law for future DACA recipients, TPS holders and asylum seekers that will make it all but impossible for anyone to qualify.
“These are the same old, tired, and extremist ideas the president and his advisors floated last year. They were rejected by both the Republican-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate. This is not a compromise. This is going backwards!
“If this administration wants to target refugees, at least have the guts to do it in an open hearing for the world to see…
“The minibus includes $328 million in new dollars for border security that we know will actually work. The funding will increase infrastructure investments at our ports of entry; install new technology that will scan for drugs, weapons and contraband; put in place new technology to detect unauthorized crossings; and fund more immigration judges.
“This is what smart security looks like in the 21st Century, M. Speaker. Not some medieval wall…
“If the president really wants to reach a real compromise, he should log off Twitter and actually sit down with us. Be willing to actually negotiate. No more storming out of the Situation Room. No more of his my-way-or-highway approach. Work with us for a change.
“For whatever reason, M. Speaker, he has been unwilling to do that. President Trump may not have the fortitude to get us out of the mess he created. But this Majority does. Instead of following the president, who got us into this mess, we have an opportunity to lead. Passing these bipartisan, bicameral bills is what leadership looks like…
“Congress has the power to end this shutdown. I urge all my colleagues to vote yes on this rule and give the underlying legislation the strong, veto-proof vote it deserves. Let’s finally turn the lights back on.”