In late September, the House passed four Continuing Resolutions to fund the government — all of which were promptly rejected by Senate Democrats. They even rejected our attempt to establish formal negotiations in a Conference Committee. In other words, they refused to even come to the table for a discussion. And as a result, they shut down the government at midnight on Sept. 30.
In the days since the shut down began, House Republicans have been working tirelessly to resolve this situation. Unfortunately Senate Democrats still refuse to play ball. The House has begun to pass individual bills to ensure some of our most important programs and agencies remain open during the shut down.
This began with a bill to ensure troops were paid during the shut down — which the Senate passed and the President signed into law. The bill provided the President with broad authority to fund all Department of Defense operations during the shut down — including national guardsman and benefits for the families of our fallen heroes. Regrettably, the administration interpreted this law unreasonably, in what I fear was a political effort to impose as much pain as possible on the military, veterans, and their families.
So the House took matters into their own hands and passed bills that specifically funded many of the agencies and groups the administration left out. This includes legislation to pay our national guardsman and reservists and fund all Department of Veterans Affairs activities. We also passed legislation that provides benefits for the families of our fallen heroes, including transportation to Dover Air Force Base to witness the dignified transfer of their loved one’s remains.
But it doesn’t end there. We passed legislation to fund our national parks and museums, which would allow places like Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge to be open for outdoorsmen. We voted to fund the WIC program, which provides nutrition assistance for women and children and voted to keep an important education program, Head Start, fully operational. Other bills we’ve passed include funding for the National Institutes of Health, our aviation system, and the Food and Drug Administration. The list goes on and it will continue to get longer.
Unfortunately, most of these bills are stalled in the United States Senate, where Barack Obama’s allies refuse to let them come up for a vote. I am hopeful our work in the House will soon pay-off and the government shut down will come to an end. Until then, I urge my colleagues on the other side of Capitol Hill to consider each individual funding bill quickly and allow essential areas of our government to remain operational.