PRICE FLOOR REMARKS ON CONTINUING RESOLUTION
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this continuing resolution, which will allow us to avoid another completely unnecessary and potentially devastating government shutdown. My vote in favor of the CR does not mean I support the irresponsible sequestration-level budget resolution that has made it impossible to pass FY 2016 appropriations bills, much less the reckless manner in which the Republican majority continues to manage the budget process.
“The Republican budget announced this spring made no room for the critical investments in infrastructure, housing, research, health care, and education that our country needs to thrive. In fact, it made deeply damaging reductions.
“Defense appropriators were able to avoid sequestration levels only by using the so-called OCO gimmick, amounting to a $38 billion sleight of hand.
“It was evident from the beginning that we would have to negotiate new budget numbers -- if not a comprehensive agreement of the sort that balanced the budget in the 1990s, then at least a more modest deal like the Ryan-Murray agreement of the last two years -- in order to pass our appropriations bills. I and other Democratic colleagues took to the floor again and again to decry these unacceptable budget numbers that simply set us up for failure. Our leaders have been offering to negotiate for months, knowing full well that President Obama would be forced to veto any appropriations bills passed under the Republican budget. Will it take a government shutdown, we asked, to make us do our job?
“Apparently the answer is ‘yes’. The Senate couldn’t pass a single appropriations bill. The House passed a few with Republican votes alone, and then the process collapsed under the weight of the Confederate battle flag debate. That was a particularly disgraceful episode, but the process was already on life support. It was never going to work, and Republican leaders have known that all year.
“Despite the failure of the appropriations process, as represented by this short-term CR, all hope is not lost. We can still salvage the hard bipartisan work of my and other appropriations subcommittees, if, when this CR expires, we can stitch together an omnibus appropriations bill for the balance of the year.
“The Appropriations Committee still avoids some of the ideological battles that divide this body, and I have been able to work closely with Chairman Diaz-Balart to negotiate a framework for transportation and housing funding. I know that many of the other subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members have made similar progress. Given realistic funding levels, these bills can relatively quickly be converted into acceptable appropriations legislation.
“So I once again join my colleagues in urging Speaker Boehner to resume bipartisan budget negotiations and produce reasonable, responsible funding levels that can allow the appropriations process to move forward. Today, we’re buying ourselves a couple of months. Instead of lurching toward another crisis in December, let’s actually come to a consensus on the kind of investments in our future that a great country must make.”