January 16, 2019

Senator Warren Delivers Floor Speech on Government Shutdown

"...This shutdown is a manufactured crisis that the President is using to fan the flames of racism and bigotry - all so he can distract the American people from demanding a government that works for them."

Video (YouTube)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor in which she discussed how the ongoing government shutdown has affected workers and families in Massachusetts.  In her remarks, which were delivered on the 26th day of the longest shutdown in American history, Senator Warren called on President Trump and Republicans to re-open the government now so that hundreds of thousands of federal workers can get the paychecks they have earned.

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
**As Prepared for Delivery**
January 16, 2019

Mr. President,

Today is the 26th day of the longest government shutdown in American history. Weeks ago, the Senate voted unanimously to keep the government open. The House has now passed multiple bipartisan bills to end the shutdown.

But President Trump refuses to come to the negotiating table, and Leader McConnell refuses to let the Senate vote on these bipartisan bills. As a result, over 800,000 people across the country have been sent home or are working without pay.

Senate Democrats are here to share the stories of people whose lives are being upended. I want to thank Senator Murray for organizing these speeches, and Leader Schumer for leading our efforts to reopen the government.

I am speaking today on behalf of 8,200 federal workers in Massachusetts who have been affected-including TSA workers at Logan Airport, service members, air traffic controllers, health care providers, and staff at our national parks.

 One of my constituents, Janelle, works at Native American Lifelines of Boston, an Urban Indian Health Program. This program does crucial work helping to meet the health, dental, and behavioral health needs for Native people in the Boston metropolitan area. It's a contract site with the Indian Health Service, an agency whose funding has been cut off by the shutdown.

Now Janelle loves her job and she cares deeply about the people she serves. She doesn't want them to go hungry, she doesn't want them to miss their appointments, she doesn't want them to be unable to fill their prescriptions.

But she worries about what will happen if the government doesn't open up soon.

A prolonged shutdown would be a major hardship for Janelle. But it could mean a health emergency - even life or death - for her clients.

Another constituent, Don, is helping Coast Guard families in Massachusetts make ends meet.

His organization, the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, has distributed over 52,000 pounds of food since the start of the shutdown.

He knows that if the shutdown continues, he'll have to start draining his organization's budget-and that could mean he won't be able to help military families afford school supplies come next September.

Janelle and Don's stories are just two examples of how President Trump is holding Massachusetts families hostage while he demands a border wall.

And let's be perfectly clear about what the President is doing. The shutdown is not about border security.  It is not about protecting anyone.

It doesn't make us any safer that President Trump has padlocked the doors at the Department of Homeland Security, or that he's asking our Coast Guard, our FBI agents, our airport security - even our border patrol - to work without pay.

No, this shutdown is a manufactured crisis that the President is using to fan the flames of racism and bigotry - all so that he can distract the American people from demanding a government that works for them.

This isn't a new playbook. It's one that Republicans and the President have been using for years. Over and over again, they try to pit white working people against black and brown people, gay people against straight people, young people against older people, people born in the United States against people who came here in search of a better life - pit them all against each other so they don't band together. So that they don't demand real change.

But here's the deal: the American people are on to this twisted strategy. They know that this government works just great for the rich and the powerful - but not for everyone else. And across this country, people are insisting on a government that is not just open for business but a government that actually works for them.

A government that expands health care coverage - instead of ripping it away from grandparents and newborns. A government that tackles the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs - instead of selling out to giant drug companies that put profits ahead of patients. A government that ends the stranglehold that money has on Washington - instead of stacking the government with public officials who are more interested in lining their own pockets than serving the public.

I could go on and on in this list.

I came to the United States Senate six years ago to fight for working families and to tackle these problems head on. To end a rigged system that created two sets of rules: one that applies to the rich and the powerful and one for everybody else.

Republicans are trying to divide Americans in order to stop us from getting to work ending this rigged system. But we are onto their game.

The President and Republicans must end this shutdown now so that hundreds of thousands of federal workers can get their paychecks and get back to work.

If they don't, hardworking people like Janelle and Don-and thousands more across Massachusetts-will continue paying the price.