Peters Floor Remarks on Need to Find Bipartisan Solutions for Long Term Spending Goals
Peters: “The coming weeks will be difficult, but we need to rise to the occasion and deliver on all of these responsibilities. Now is the time to step up our game. The American people expect and deserve nothing less.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) spoke on the Senate floor today on the need for Congress to come together to find bipartisan, commonsense solutions to the nation’s long-term spending goals. Below is video and text of his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I believe that every campaign for elected office in this great nation is essentially a months-long job interview with the voters. Or perhaps more accurately, it is thousands and thousands of interviews. And like any employer the voters have expectations for us once we have been hired to do the job.
“I never forget that I work for the people of Michigan and I feel deeply fortunate to have earned the opportunity to serve them. When I ran for the United States Senate, I told Michiganders I would be a pragmatic problem solver and I stand by that promise, every word of it.
“We were all sent here to solve problems, especially the hard problems.
“Making the effort to participate in our democracy is fundamentally optimistic, voters want us to make their lives and our nation better. Every Senator elected to this body carries the hopes the dreams and the expectations of the people who live in their state.
“While we should never lose sight of our nation’s hopes and dreams, today I’d like to focus on expectations.
“Americans expect us to work together. They expect us to talk to each other. They expect us to negotiate and find common ground where we disagree. They expect us to help our fellow Americans after disasters. They expect us to respond to crises like the opioid epidemic and dangerously underfunded pensions that jeopardize their retirement security. They expect us to keep our borders secure and enact reasonable, humane immigration policies that keep our nation competitive and boost economic growth. And they expect us to responsibly fund the federal government.
“None of us should be proud of the recent government shutdown, there is no such thing as a good government shutdown. But I am nevertheless hopeful that lessons can be learned from last weekend and a better path forward can be found. I think the coming weeks and months are of vital importance to the future of United States Senate as a meaningful, functional institution.
“Let’s be honest with ourselves, and the American people.
“In the last few years, we have not been functional. We have blown deadline after deadline. It took us almost four months past the funding deadline to tackle the easiest problem reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program a program that provides health care to millions of American children while saving taxpayer dollars.
“As I stand here health care for over 600,000 Michiganders, including over 12,000 Michigan veterans, remains at risk as we have blown through deadline after deadline to fund Community Health Centers, a program that provides cost-effective care to millions of Americans in both rural and urban areas across this nation.
“How is it that a nation that put the first man on the moon, still can’t put lights on for our own American citizens in Puerto Rico?
“We need to help families clean out their flooded homes in the Gulf, support communities who have faced out-of-control wildfires and mudslides during the devastating 2017 disaster season, and ensure affordable flood insurance is available to every homeowner that needs it.
“Americans stand by each other in the face of tragedy, this is why Senator Stabenow and I fought for a year to deliver federal resources to Flint, and continue working to make sure that families are receiving the care they need and that damaged pipes are being replaced.
“In addition to addressing all these urgent issues, we need to keep the lights on here in the federal government, where funding is set to expire again in just two weeks.
“While the government was shut down this past weekend, I worked with a bipartisan group of Senators pulled together by my colleagues Senator Collins and Senator Manchin. This group is called the Common Sense Coalition and we worked through the weekend to find a bipartisan compromise to open the federal government and find a path forward to tackle the complex, pressing issues before Congress.
“While the lights are back on, the real work is just beginning.
“In the coming weeks we need to find a legislative solution to provide certainty to the dreamers, young men and women brought to the United States as small children. They grew up as Americans, went to school here, served in the military, only speak English, and are every bit as American as you and I. They graduate from our colleges and universities and provide critical talent to growing American companies. They start their own small businesses and create jobs in our communities.
“They are young adults who voluntarily came out of the shadows to participate in the DACA program, and are fearful they will ripped from their home and be deported to a country they have never visited, a country where they don’t speak the language, and will find themselves a stranger in a foreign land, an absolutely terrifying situation.
“Without question, we must also pass a disaster relief package to help communities devastated by the hurricanes, floods, and wildfires last year.
“We also must reauthorize the Community Health Center program that provides essential care to millions of Americans and over 600,000 Michiganders.
“We must do more to fight the far-reaching opioid epidemic that is hurting and killing far too many of our friends, family, and neighbors. The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that touches people in every state and county in our country.
“We need to deliver certainty to the hardworking Americans who spent decades earning their pensions and now see them at risk as they prepare to enter retirement.
“And we must follow through on our most basic of duties, we need a bipartisan deal to fund the government that takes care of the men and women who serve our country in the Armed Services – keeps us safe – and properly funds both our military and domestic priorities.
“This will not be easy, but solving easy problems is not why we were sent to the Senate. I ran for the United States Senate to solve the tough problems facing our country and I know my colleagues in the Common Sense Coalition ran to solve tough problems too. We need the entire Senate and the House to start acting like one big Common Sense Coalition.
“No organization or business can run their budget in 2 or 3-week increments.
“The Defense Department and all of our domestic agencies need certainty for budget planning just like any household or business does, we cannot let the American people down any longer by kicking the can down the road with another series of short term budget patches.
“The coming weeks will be difficult, but we need to rise to the occasion and deliver on all of these responsibilities.
“Now is the time to step up our game. The American people expect and deserve nothing less.”
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