Senator Stabenow Delivers Floor Remarks on Impact of Government Shutdown

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today spoke on the Senate Floor regarding the ongoing government shutdown and its impact on families in Michigan and across the country.


“This shutdown fight shouldn’t be about politics. It should be about people,” said Stabenow. “And it’s the American people who are losing.


A transcript of her remarks may be found below. Video of her remarks may be found here.




“Mr. President:


“Here in Washington, President Trump is demanding walls that he’s expecting American taxpayers to pay for. Walls that the majority of experts do not believe will be effective in keeping us safe. 


“Meanwhile, in Michigan, hundreds of Customs and Border Patrol officers – who keep us safe every day – are working without pay. And that’s wrong.


“The President says we need more security. I support strong border security. Strong, effective border security. I also support economic security for hardworking Michigan families.


“Some federal employees in Michigan are wondering how they can support their families … pay their mortgages … and keep the heat on without the paychecks they’re supposed to receive on Friday.


“And President Trump is talking about a “humanitarian crisis.”


“Here’s a humanitarian crisis: 38 million people who depend on food assistance to keep food on their tables now have to worry that it might suddenly be gone. Most of those Americans are senior citizens, people with disabilities, and children.


“This shutdown fight shouldn’t be about politics. It should be about people. And the American people are losing.


“One issue we should be able to agree on is the border. We all support border security.


“I certainly know the importance of border security as a member from a border state.


“The professionals on our Northern Border keep us safe every day, and they know what they need to do their jobs.


“They are asking for more resources, more people, and above all, better technology.


“What they don’t need is a first-century solution to a 21st-century problem.


“Building a wall on our border is a little like providing the U.S. Army swords and shields and expecting them to defend our nation.


“Unfortunately, this Administration is more focused on the merits of concrete vs. steel than actually protecting the American public.


“If our border is a “national emergency,” then why hasn’t the President spent the hundreds of millions of dollars that have already been allocated for border security? We already allocated dollars for border security, the majority of which has not been spent.


“We can all agree that border security is important.


“And we should also be able to agree that workers deserve to be paid and be able to take care of their families.


“I’ve heard from Michigan workers who can’t pay their bills and are desperately seeking temporary jobs, families who have been left without health insurance, and contractors who know that even if federal workers get paid back, they won’t.


“There are also thousands of small businesses that depend upon spending by federal employees to remain open – dry cleaners, neighborhood stores, local restaurants.


“The shutdown is also hurting American agriculture.


“At the end of last year, we passed a strong, bipartisan Farm Bill to help farmers struggling with low prices, growing trade concerns, and unpredictable weather.


“During these difficult times, our farmers desperately need the predictability and confidence that a 5-year Farm Bill provides. That’s what Senator Roberts and I spoke about every day on the floor of the Senate. We need to put in place a five-year Farm Bill with predictability for farmers and rural communities and families.


“However, the President has undermined the certainty that the Farm Bill provided by continuing this shutdown on the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


“Every day that the USDA is shut down is another day that the improvements we made in the 2018 Farm Bill are delayed.


“Local Farm Service offices all across Michigan are closed and farmers can’t apply for loans they need as they look to next year. We have dairy farmers in very desperate situations. We dramatically increased support for them in the Farm Bill and they need it now.


“Important crop reports are halted while farmers are making decisions for the upcoming planting season. All kinds of technical information that they need to move forward.


“The USDA Rural Development office is the economic development arm for every small town and every rural community in Michigan. And rural homeowners can’t receive the housing loans they need to finance their homes and pay their mortgages.


“And we can’t forget our families on food assistance.


“38 million people are able to put food on their table thanks to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – or SNAP.


“While we should certainly do everything we can to ensure that food assistance is available in the near term, and I appreciate the Department working on that, our families deserve long term certainty.


“Especially considering that nearly 70% of those on SNAP are seniors, children, or people with disabilities.


“It is unconscionable to risk letting those most in need go hungry because of the politics of a government shutdown.


“And beyond SNAP, school meals, support for women, infants, and children, and food for seniors are all at risk if this shutdown does not come to an end.


“And due to this shutdown, local food banks are no longer receiving funds to distribute and store food.


“Very, very real consequences are going on. We could go through every single department to speak about what is happening to real people and what will happen if this is not resolved.


“We can disagree about a lot of things.


“Yet we should all be able to agree that the people keeping us safe every day should be paid.


“Federal workers should be able to pay their bills and take care of their families.


“And children, seniors, and people with disabilities shouldn’t have to worry where their next meal is coming from because of a government shutdown.


“It’s time for the President to end this. It’s very easy.


“The House and the Senate have both passed the appropriations bills on a bipartisan vote. At the end of the last year we passed it in the Senate. It was just passed last week in the House.


“We can repass those bills. They can go to the President’s desk and this shutdown should end. He should sign the bipartisan appropriations bills and he should put the American people first.


“We can and will continue to debate what border security looks like. We can debate how we can be most effective doing what we all want to see get done. But it’s time to stop the shutdown and for the President to sign the appropriations bills that are bipartisan and make sure the American people know that he is on their side.


“Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.”