(Senate - October 12, 2013)

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[Pages S7419-S7426]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. REID. Madam President, it is very hard to comprehend that 4 days 
from today, unless and until a few extremist Republicans--we hope it is 
a few--too radical to compromise, could force a default on the Nation's 
financial obligations for the first time ever. Economists say it won't 
be long before financial markets react negatively to this continued 
  I believe Monday is a legal holiday and I believe the markets will be 
closed. That is good. What I see staring us in the face is not a 
pleasant picture.
  Everyone should understand that a bad day on Wall Street doesn't only 
affect these great big banks or wealthy investors. It affects everyone 
in our country, not only those with 401(k)s but those who have no 
savings. It affects everybody, because everyone will lose, not only in 
America but around the world. The life savings of ordinary Americans 
are at risk, and that is an understatement.
  While this uncertainty is bad, default would be unthinkably worse. To 
show my angst is real, one only need look at what took place in the 
House of Representatives this morning. They walked out of another 
meeting, a conference, a caucus--call it what you

[[Page S7420]]

want--defiant: We couldn't do anything.
  Therefore, the government remains closed, and the debt ceiling is, 
every day, closer and closer--every hour now. While this uncertainty is 
bad, I repeat, default is unthinkably worse.
  Because of the collapse on Wall Street a few years ago, the State of 
Nevada and States all over the country were hammered. This was only 5 
years ago. Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings, 
as did people around the world. The country is beginning to recover, 
but it is not in great shape.
  The crisis we now face is one of even greater proportion. The 
government has remained closed for 12 days. Think about this. Four 
States are buying into programs so national parks can stay open. 
National parks. They were the brainchild of Republican Theodore 
  It is very sad what is happening to our country. Defaulting on our 
debt would risk millions of American jobs--not thousands, not tens of 
thousands, not hundreds of thousands, but millions of jobs. Social 
Security checks will likely be halted, Medicare payments and even 
payments for our troops wouldn't happen.
  Without exception, the most respected economists and business minds 
of our time have said that if America defaults on its debt, there will 
be dire consequences here and around the globe. We have heard this from 
everybody, not only economists but business people.
  I was pleased to see the Republicans engaged in talks with the 
President, the House Republicans. That is over, it is done. They are 
not talking anymore. We learned that this morning.
  I say to my friends on the Republican side of the Senate, time is 
running out. They have urged their more radical Members to compromise.
  For example, my senior friend from Arizona came to the Congress of 
the United States with me and the assistant leader. We have been 
together for 31 years. These are the sensible words of the senior 
Senator from Arizona:

       Sooner or later, the government will resume its function. 
     Sooner or later we will raise the debt limit. The question is 
     how we get there. . . . Why don't we do this sooner rather 
     than later? Why doesn't the Senate lead?

  To that end we are trying. We are going to have a vote in 50 minutes 
on a long-term measure to avert default and give the economy what it 
  I have told my Republican friends that allowing the government to 
operate again is not a favor to me; it is not a favor to the Presiding 
Officer; it is not a favor to Democrats on this side of the aisle. It 
is something that should happen. We shouldn't consider this a time for 
doing favors for individuals or groups. We should understand the 
government should open because it should never have closed in the first 
  The debt ceiling--reasonable Republicans should understand this 
should be extended, not for a couple of weeks or a couple of months, it 
should be extended for a long time. We shouldn't have this fight. To 
think that this is only a motion to proceed to the legislation, it is 
not a vote on the measure itself, and the Republicans, I have been 
told, are all going to vote against this. What a sad day for America. 
They are voting to not allow us to even debate whether the debt ceiling 
should be raised. Are they afraid of that? Do they want this to go 
away? It is not going to go away. Each hour that goes by, we are closer 
to a calamity for our country.
  The economy needs more stability than short-term Republican 
proposals. Congress and the country must not be back in a position a 
few weeks from now wondering whether Republicans will force our Nation 
to default on our financial obligations.
  To think the House Republicans are saying: Well, we will extend the 
debt for a little while but we are not going to reopen the government, 
wow, that is so logical, sensible and good for the country--and I say 
this very sarcastically.
  The Senate Democrats' position has been and remains this: We open our 
government and pay our country's bills so we can move forward with 
good-faith negotiations on a long-term budget. It is not too late for 
my Republican colleagues to do what is right for this country.
  I am very concerned. It seems the worry about whether our country 
should have a functioning government and should extend the debt ceiling 
is only from Democrats. This isn't the way it should be.
  I admire President Obama for what he has done the last few days. He 
has invited every Member of Congress, 535, to meet with him. First he 
had the House Democrats and then the Senate Democrats, another meeting, 
then Senate Republicans, and House Republicans. Remember, the last time 
my friend Speaker Boehner was on television, he said: Maybe, oh, 18 
times, I haven't counted.
  He wanted to have a conversation. The President took him up on that. 
He invited all 232 Members of the Republican Caucus to come to the 
White House and visit with him. They refused that. They sent down 20.
  I appreciate the President being willing to talk with all of us, and 
he has done that in detail. The problem is the conversation is one way. 
The Republicans are not interested, it appears at this stage, of doing 
anything constructive to extend the debt ceiling and open the 
government. ``Later'' is what they always say.

                       Reservation of Leader Time

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the leadership time 
is reserved.
  Under the previous order, the time until 12 noon will be equally 
divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees.
  The assistant minority leader.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, at 12 o'clock noon we will vote on the 
motion to proceed to S. 1569. It is barely 1 page, but it is of more 
significance than anyone can imagine. It basically is an opportunity 
for us to start the debate--not to end the debate but to start the 
debate--on whether the United States of America will default on its 
debt for the first time in the history of this Nation. Other nations 
have defaulted: Argentina, Venezuela, Cameroon. We have never 
  As a result, the U.S. dollar is the soundest currency in the world. 
Think about it for a second. Where else would you turn? The U.S. dollar 
is the soundest currency. Buying the debt of the United States is 
considered to be the single safest investment any person, business, or 
country can make.
  We didn't just inherit this. We earned this, because every year the 
United States has been a nation, we have paid our bills, and now this 
is being brought into question.
  Today at noon on the floor of the Senate there is going to be a vote 
on whether we proceed with the debate over paying our bills. Sadly, we 
are told not a single Republican Senator will join us in allowing the 
debate on paying our bills. That is a sad commentary. When we think 
about it, it is taking the events of the past week or two to the 
  It was bad enough to shut down the United States. When Republicans 
decided that shutting down the government was a great political move, 
the American people said: Are you out of your mind? Eight hundred 
thousand people are going to be furloughed, and we are going to stop 
the services of our government?
  For the last 12 days we have seen every single day another indicator, 
another piece of news, about how this government shutdown is hurting 
ordinary people across America, whether it is those who were denied 
clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health outside of 
Washington, DC--clinical trials that were literally life-and-death 
decisions; whether we are talking about food inspection, reading the 
newspaper about salmonella poisoning and realizing the Republican 
government shutdown is reducing the number of food inspectors. The list 
goes on and on and on.
  But I will tell you this: As sad and unfair as it is for the 
Republican shutdown of the government to result in 800,000 furloughed 
Federal employees, the hardships on their families and the hardships on 
all Americans who count on their jobs and on the basic services of the 
Federal Government is worse.
  This is worse. The Republican shutdown has reached a new level of 
recklessness, a new level of irresponsibility if we default on 
America's debt. Sadly, it will mean the victims will not just be 
Federal employees and their families. No, not even just those who count 
on government services. The victims

[[Page S7421]]

will be virtually every person and every family in America.
  Is that an exaggeration? Is it just another politician reaching 
extreme rhetoric here on the floor? Let me quote a few people who do 
this for a living--the people we trust. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in 
a Finance Committee hearing on October 13 said:

       Failing to raise the debt ceiling will impact everyday 
     Americans beyond its impact on financial markets. Between 
     October 17 and November 1, we have large payments to Medicare 
     providers, Social Security beneficiaries, and veterans, as 
     well as salaries for Active-Duty members of the military. A 
     failure to raise the debt limit could put timely payment of 
     all of these at risk.

  Of course, he is a government employee, an appointee of the 
administration. One might say: Well, let's discount that. He is just 
putting the President's political spin on this. Let's go to Frank 
Keating, no friend of the administration. He is the head of the 
American Bankers Association. Before a banking committee hearing on 
October 10, he said:

       Ordinary Americans will bear the brunt of the damage if our 
     leaders do not prevent the United States from defaulting on 
     its debt for the first time in history.

  He went on to say:

       It would . . . raise the cost of borrowing for businesses, 
     meaning job losses and price increases . . . be a blow to 
     retirement funds, leaving fewer resources available for 
     retirees. For banks, which hold $3 trillion in Treasury, 
     agency and mortgage-backed securities, the sharp decline in 
     value of these securities would translate into fewer 
     resources available for mortgages, business, auto, credit 
     card and student loans.

  To put it in layman's terms, Mr. Keating, the head of the American 
Bankers Association, is saying if the Congress fails to extend the debt 
ceiling, as we are proposing to do today, interest rates will go up--
interest rates on ordinary Americans, ordinary families, and ordinary 
  This is entirely preventable. Let me just lay the cards on the table. 
I have been in the House and in the Senate. Nobody wants to vote for 
this because most people don't understand it. They think: Oh, so you 
want us to go further in debt, Senator? That is why you voted for it.
  But that is not the case. The debt limit is paying off the bills we 
have already incurred. It is like going to a fancy restaurant and 
ordering the best meal on the menu, eating the meal, and when they come 
to ask you to pay the check you say: No, I am not paying the check. You 
see, I am a fiscal conservative. I just don't believe in extravagant 
eating. But you just ate the meal, and now you are not going to pay the 
  That is what this is about. We have incurred these bills, and now the 
question is whether we will pay these bills. That is what it comes down 
to. This is basic and fundamental.
  At noon there will be a vote on the floor of the Senate which will 
have a direct impact on everyone in this country. The question is 
whether the Republicans, fresh from the failure of their government 
shutdown, are going to dig a deeper hole, not just for their party--
forget that completely--but for this Nation; whether they are going to 
create a new group of victims beyond Federal employees that includes 
every person, every family, and every business in America. That is what 
is at stake.
  Madam President, I am not exaggerating. I think this may be the 
single most irresponsible thing I have seen in the time I have served 
in Washington. To let this happen is not good for this Nation, and it 
is not fair to the people of this Nation.
  The majority leader said the markets are closed on Monday. It turns 
out, I am told, that the bond market is closed, but the stock market is 
open. That stock market, incidentally, is where mutual funds live, 
where the stocks people own for their savings and retirement live, and 
where their savings live. This irresponsible action, sadly, is likely 
to create a decline in the value of their hard-earned savings.
  But it can be avoided. What would it take? Six Republicans. That is 
what it takes. The Democrats are prepared to move forward and extend 
the debt ceiling. We need six moderate Republicans to step up and join 
us. If they will, we will move forward. We will accept the 
responsibility of ultimately voting for whatever bill there is to 
extend the debt ceiling. We are asking six Republicans to give us a 
chance to vote. If they say no at noon today, the consequences could be 
awful for this great Nation.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I hope the country listens to what the 
senior Senator from Illinois has said about the ramifications of this 
shutdown. This is not a political exercise. This is not a bumper 
sticker thing. This is hitting every single family, every single person 
in America. It doesn't make a difference whether they are Democrats, 
Republicans or Independents. It is going to hurt and hurt badly. 
Whether you are saving money for your child to go to college, to put 
away for your retirement or are paying bills for an illness, all of us 
are going to be impacted. So I thank the distinguished senior Senator 
from Illinois for those comments.
  Madam President, on this 12th day of being paralyzed by this 
unnecessary shutdown, there are real results that will come about 
because of it. I have given several examples on the floor about how 
Vermonters are suffering due to this tea party shutdown. And I am sure 
the distinguished Presiding Officer probably has similar examples from 
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or others as well.
  Earlier this year I worked with Senator Crapo, a Republican from 
Idaho, to build the support we needed to reauthorize the Violence 
Against Women Act--VAWA--and I was proud when both the Senate and House 
passed the legislation with strong bipartisan votes and the President 
signed it. We put our differences aside--and we are philosophically 
very different--to help the people we serve, whether they are in Idaho, 
Vermont, Massachusetts or anywhere else. We sent a clear message that 
violence against women will not be tolerated. We put the needs of 
victims first when we promised rape crisis centers and domestic 
violence shelters they would have the resources they need to keep their 
doors open and to keep their 24-hour hotlines staffed. But now we are 
here in October, which marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and so 
many of the lifesaving programs we put in this legislation are caught 
in the crossfire of the tea party shutdown.
  Today, as Federal funds are being held hostage by the tea party 
shutdown, we are starting to see the real toll of this brinkmanship. In 
Franklin County, VT, a northwestern county in our State, advocates were 
hopeful when they learned a new grant would allow one staff person to 
help victims of LGBT domestic assault in that rural region. Of course, 
this hope has given way to frustration because the funds promised on 
October 1 did not come through due to the shutdown.
  Barre City, Vermont, is the town where my father was born. It has a 
population of 9,200. In Barre City, the police force has furloughed two 
half-time detectives who were providing 24/7 coverage for special 
responses to domestic violence cases. They were also providing critical 
training for their colleagues on how to answer these challenging calls.
  I was a prosecutor in Vermont, and I saw how terrible these domestic 
violence cases could be, and they occur in every State. I would bet 
that every single State can give an example of what this shutdown has 
meant, the same as Barre, VT.
  There is a long list of programs funded with VAWA grants that 
continue to provide services to victims--and incur the related costs--
based on the hope they might be reimbursed once funding is restored. 
Meanwhile, the tea party says maybe the check will be in the mail. They 
have no choice because despite what the tea party might think, when you 
close the spigot of funding, it doesn't mean the victims go away.
  I still have nightmares of some of these scenes I saw at 3 o'clock in 
the morning when I was a prosecutor. They are still occurring. We can 
at least cut way back on them and help people in America.
  But I also want to know what is going to happen to victims and their 
children when the money for WIC and the TANF programs runs dry. We know 
many victims of domestic violence have to rely on this support when 
they leave their abusers. In the past they had to stick with their 
abusers because

[[Page S7422]]

they had to feed their children. Now at least they have a lifeline out 
there. If you combine that with the impending cuts to the Supplemental 
Nutrition Assistance Program the tea party wants, I wonder whether this 
is going to cause these victims and their children to stay in the homes 
of the abusers just so the children can be fed. That is shameful.
  This is America. This is America. All of these tea party members get 
paid. They are getting paid today. They get their expenses. They get 
their staff. They can fly back and forth. They can go on television and 
all of that. They are not facing this abuse or the question of how they 
feed their children.
  Kris Luken, director of Voices Against Violence in St. Albans, VT, 
says the uncertainty is the hardest part, both for her agency and for 
the victims it serves. At the end of last week, the first of the tea 
party shutdown, she said:

       We are fielding a lot of calls from survivors who don't 
     know how they are going to make ends meet. People just don't 
     know what the impact will be.

  So you get abused first by whoever the abuser is, and now you are 
going to get abused by this tea party shutdown. In these difficult 
economic times, it is more important than ever to ensure that our 
safety net is in place. We cannot turn our backs on these families--
that is not who we are as a country.
  When we reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act this year, we 
included provisions to specifically address the high rate of domestic 
and sexual violence experienced by Native American women. Sadly, this 
shutdown disproportionately affects that already vulnerable population. 
Tribal lands rely heavily on Federal funding and one tribal domestic 
violence shelter in South Dakota has lost 90 percent of its funding. 
That shelter is at capacity and the loss of funds means victims are 
being turned away. They are left with no place to turn. That is simply 
  The District of Columbia's Sexual Assault Nurse's program relies on 
Federal funds to provide necessary medical assistance to rape victims, 
including rape kits. Absent emergency funding which will soon dry up 
unless we end this foolish shutdown, rape kit examinations will cease, 
leaving victims without the specialized care they deserve and the DNA 
evidence they need to prosecute and convict their rapists.
  Let's end the uncertainty. Let's end the shutdown and fulfill our 
promises to the people we are here to represent.
  The continuing resolution passed by the Senate--a resolution which, 
after all, was asked for by the House of Representatives and was a 
compromise with them--could end this stalemate. The leadership in the 
House of Representatives should have the courage to bring it to a 
vote--the courage not necessarily for their own political needs but the 
courage for the needs of America.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. WARNER. Madam President, I first of all want to thank my 
colleague, the Senator from Vermont, for his comments and his 
relentless voicing of the concerns of folks who are not often heard in 
the halls of this institution. I thank him for his work and for letting 
everyone know who continues to be hurt by this absurd government 
  I really think we are almost in a kind of era of the theater of the 
absurd at this point. We have a government shutdown for 11-plus days 
and are 4 days, 5 days from a default. What I keep wondering is--we 
hear about some of the least fortunate who are being hurt--how much of 
our economy is being hurt all across the board.
  I received a call 2 nights ago from the chairman of a company from 
Northern Virginia with 5,500 employees. This company has been built by 
this first generation of Americans. He is extraordinarily proud of what 
he has done for his company, for his employees. His company serves our 
government as a so-called government contractor. A lot of these 
companies are not only in Virginia, in Maryland, but across this region 
and across this country.
  When the shutdown started, 30 percent of his 5,500 employees were 
told they are not essential. So the company has been trying to make 
ends meet keeping these folks furloughed but not firing them, trying to 
pay them a little something during this period. The remarkable thing is 
that 70 percent of the employees that were deemed essential are not 
getting paid either--even though the government says they are going to 
pay them--because the folks who process the checks are furloughed.
  Anybody who operates a business on a cashflow basis knows that when 
the money runs out, even if you have a potential IOU, if you can't go 
to the bank and borrow money, you shut down. This company, 25 years in 
the building, this CEO, this chairman, said if this goes on 1 or 2 more 
weeks, his life's work and--more importantly than his life's work, he 
said--the 5,500 people who depend upon this company's existence may 
very well disappear. That is just part of the government shutdown.

  Today we are going to vote on an issue that I never thought in my 
time in the public sector or the private sector we would be seriously 
considering; that is, the default of the United States of America. I 
have spent more time in the private sector than I have in the public 
sector, but I never thought I would see the headline I saw this week in 
the Financial Times, an international financial newspaper, where the 
headline was that Japan and China and Russia Say: America, pay your 
bills. America, pay your bills. America, the largest economy in the 
world, the country that, because of our exemplary behavior for decades, 
has been granted the status of the reserve currency.
  What does reserve currency mean? It means that every American 
business does a little bit better than every other business around the 
world because the dollar is the currency everybody else goes to when 
times are tough.
  There are countries--not all of them friendly to us--that are saying 
that maybe the dollar shouldn't be the reserve currency anymore, and if 
we lose that status, it doesn't come back overnight. It is not where 
the tea party crowd can say: Maybe we made a mistake; we want to roll 
that back. Once it is gone, it could take literally decades to get it 
  Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has only been one 
industrialized country in the world that has defaulted since the year 
2000--Argentina. America is not Argentina, but back in December 2001 
Argentina defaulted. Prior to that time, Argentina--per capita income--
was the richest country in South America, way ahead of Chile, Brazil, 
and other nations in that region. Once Argentina defaulted, the value 
of its currency fell by 75 percent, inflation hit over 100 percent a 
year, and every Argentinean family lost over half of their net worth. 
Today, 12 years after Argentina defaulted, on an annual average income 
basis, it falls way below most of the countries of South America.
  America is not Argentina. It may not be that catastrophic, but why 
would anyone take the chance? Why would anyone decide in this 
unchartered area to potentially threaten default? That is like playing 
Russian roulette with one bullet and only two chambers. No responsible 
nation would do that.
  We have heard from some on the other side: Here is what we ought to 
do. Maybe we will kind of default, but we will pay our bonds and we 
will pay Social Security, pay our military, and then everything else 
will be put on hold.
  That, to me, shows a remarkable, fundamental lack of understanding of 
how government or economics works. No government has ever tried that. 
But for the sake of argument, let's suppose that somehow that 
``prioritization'' scheme might stave off America defaulting for 1 or 2 
  Here is the other half of the story they don't acknowledge. Even if 
America pays its debt, on that list of prioritization does not appear 
Medicaid, education, transportation, law enforcement, and those dollars 
don't stay spent at the Federal level, they are spent at the State 
government level and the local government level.
  I had the great honor of being Governor of Virginia before I came to 
the Senate. We worked really hard to keep a triple-A bond rating. The 
Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, Louisiana--every one 
of these States, at least one-third of their State budgets are dollars 
that pass from the Federal Government down to the State level. We could 
see within a week or maybe even less every State government and every 
local government in

[[Page S7423]]

America either have a budget crisis or default. What is happening in 
Detroit could happen across every community in America--not because of 
mistakes made at the local level or the State level but because of the 
irresponsibility of a group of folks up here who don't understand the 
economics that you don't mess with the full faith and credit of 
  What other costs are we playing with? Many of the folks who have been 
most adamant about keeping the government shut--which, by the way, will 
cost the taxpayers more and will not save us a dime. Federal employees 
will be paid, but starting and stopping all these government contracts 
will hurt the economy, decrease tax revenues, and actually cost 
taxpayers more.
  But what may be even more jeopardizing than those actions with this 
kind of irresponsible testing of the markets or brinkmanship is that we 
could see interest rates rise. Every 1 point of increased interest 
payment on our debt accounts for $110 billion of additional Federal 
Government payments every year. A 1-percent interest in the debt 
increase over a 10-year basis is an extra $1 trillion of government 
spending that has a priority over any other aspect of Federal 
Government spending. Talk about a tax hike that gets America nothing 
from a group who says: We don't want to increase taxes at any cost--
well, playing with the debt ceiling, 1 percent interest, a $110 billion 
tax hike on every American family and every American business, and 
again, you can't say a few days later ``oops'' and the market would 
then take back down our interest rates.
  I know other colleagues are here and want to speak as well. In my 
business life, in my time as Governor, in my time as Senator, I have 
never seen an action nearly as irresponsible as the actions taken--and 
I don't think this is the majority of the colleagues on the other 
side--by a small cohort of ideologues who are willing to do whatever, 
including burn down the house, to try to achieve their goals.
  We will have a chance here in the Senate in about 20 minutes to 
decide whether we will take off the threat of America defaulting. The 
Asian markets open within 40 hours. The world is going to see whether 
America is going to maintain its position as reserve currency, the 
world's largest economy, and the most stable financial basis. I hope we 
will take a step today to at least remove the threat of default, to 
encourage our friends on the House side to do that as well as reopen 
this government, and then, yes, let's get our fiscal house in order. 
But putting America's fiscal reputation and putting companies in 
jeopardy with the shutdown is not the kind of governance America needs 
at this point.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I thank my colleague from Virginia for 
his outstanding work. He knows this from a business perspective, an 
economic perspective, and a political perspective, and has been such a 
strong and vibrant voice about America paying its bills.
  I would like to add a couple of things.
  We have a group of people in the House and the Senate--not a 
majority--whom we call debt ceiling deniers. They deny that letting the 
debt ceiling lapse and going into default could be cataclysmic for 
America. They are wrong. Every person who has studied this knows it is 
  The debt ceiling deniers fall in two camps. Some say: Well, we can 
pay certain debts and not other debts and that would be all right.
  Well, let them choose. Pick Social Security over veterans? Pick 
payments to pregnant mothers versus payments for food safety? We can't 
do it.
  Then they say: Well, maybe we should just pay Treasurys that come due 
and not pay Social Security.
  Well, let me tell you, as somebody who has consulted experts on the 
market, the overwhelming view is that if we don't pay any of our bills 
for the first time in U.S. history, the markets could very well freeze 
up, tighten, and create huge damage to our country.
  The second group of debt ceiling deniers say: Well, we don't know the 
  And we don't. The markets are mystical, but once they come to their 
own most magical conclusion that the United States is going to default, 
we will be in trouble. That could be the 17th. It could be a day or two 
before, importuning us to action as soon as possible. It could be a 
little bit later. But we don't know when it is. And what a risk.
  We are like a blindfolded man walking toward the edge of a cliff. If 
we keep walking, we will fall off. We can debate whether we fall off in 
5 yards, 50 yards, or 500 yards, but we will fall off and we don't know 
what that line is. Why risk it?
  I have one final point. This could be as bad or worse than the 2008 
recession. It is the same basic principle. A very important security--
in that case, mortgage securities, and in this case, Treasurys--loses 
tremendous value, the markets freeze, loans can't be made, interest 
rates rise, and then all the ensuing economic damage. Auto sales will 
go down and thousands of autoworkers will be laid off. Home sales will 
go down and construction workers will be laid off. That is what 
happened in 2008, and it could well happen again and be worse because 
this will be worldwide. U.S. Treasurys are probably the most widely 
held denomination of assets on financial institution books and deeper--
more institutions have more of them than have mortgage securities. So 
we are playing with fire.
  I make a plea to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. I know 
we all have political agendas. I very much would like to see the 
immigration bill passed. We all have agendas that are very important to 
us. Please do not hold the debt ceiling and paying our debts hostage to 
any other condition. Pass the debt ceiling unconditionally, and then we 
can go back to our business, debate these issues, and see where the 
political chips fall. But please, for the sake of this country, for the 
sake of the men and women who labored before us and never let us 
default, do not play with fire, pass a clean debt ceiling, and let's 
move on and debate the other issues that so much deserve debate.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Ms. LANDRIEU. Madam President, I come to the floor today to add my 
voice to the voices that have spoken since 11:00 our time about the 
importance of opening this government and sending a strong signal that 
the Congress will not default on its debt; that we will pay our bills 
and we will honor the commitments we have made not only to bondholders 
outside of our country but to our own constituents who hold Treasury 
bonds in their pension funds and their 401(k)s, who use it to balance 
their investments in their businesses because they know they can count 
on those notes being paid. Until just a few days ago it seemed as if 
that would happen.
  Recently, in the last 48 hours, there is a real question as to 
whether a small group of Republicans in the House understands how high 
this cliff is and how close we are to it. This problem is completely 
manufactured by a group of people elected to office to do this exact 
thing--shut the government down at any expense and, as the Senator from 
Virginia just said, burn the whole house down with the children inside. 
They came here with that express purpose. They are wrong, and they are 
pushing this country to a terrible place.
  Leader Reid has explained it. Senator Schumer from New York has 
explained it. Mark Warner, the senior Senator from Virginia, who is 
literally one of the finest Governors we have had in the last 50 years 
in America--and I say that respectfully and honestly; we all know what 
a great Governor he was--he is now joined by another great Governor 
from Virginia, Governor Kaine--these men are Senators, but they 
understand our Governors now are at risk, every Governor, Republican 
and Democrat, and all the leaders of the State governments and the 
thousands of cities and villages.
  Yesterday we received a letter signed by the Governors Association, 
Democrat and Republican Governors, saying open the government. Do not 
let the government default. Why? Because in our system of government, 
which is the best in the world--it is not perfect, but it is the best 
in the world ever created by men and women. We are frail human beings. 
We make a lot of mistakes. We made so many mistakes in the creation

[[Page S7424]]

of our country and we still continue to do it, but we are trying to 
build a model of democracy, the best the Earth has ever known.
  There is a group of people in the House who decided that for some 
reason they do not like the democracy. I do not know what they want to 
go back to, but it has taken us 230-plus years to get here. I don't 
think anybody wants to go back to a place where the world had no 
  There were elections. People won those elections. President Obama won 
his election. He did not carry my State, but he won his election fair 
and square. He campaigned on providing middle-class families for the 
first time in America a way to purchase health insurance--not a single-
payer system, not the government system--to purchase health insurance 
so they would not be one accident away from financial ruin. ``Shame on 
President Obama. Shame on him for suggesting something so radical that 
moms and dads could go to sleep at night knowing that if an accident 
happened the next day they would not have to take bankruptcy or choose 
between a child disfigured or a child who needed to go to college. 
Shame on President Obama. How dare he suggest such a thing.''
  If they do not like the bill, they can change the bill. We did not 
wake up one morning and declare this the law. The people of the United 
States declared this through us as their Representatives. If they do 
not like it, they can unelect us. Believe me, they will have a great 
chance because I am up for reelection right now. They will be able to 
do that. But that is the way you do it. You do not threaten to shut 
down the government.
  I am going to run for reelection. I am standing in this election as a 
supporter of the Affordable Care Act--not because it is a perfect law 
but because it is much better for all the people I represent than what 
we had before--the wealthiest people, the middle-class people, and the 
poor people.
  We argued and fought in public, in meetings for 40 years on how to do 
this. This was not a last-minute, behind-the-scenes deal that nobody 
read. Have they lost their minds? We debated this for 40 years through 
every kind of President you can think of, conservative, liberal, 
different kinds of Congresses.
  I know we have devoted 10 minutes, and I know other people want to 
speak, but I will take just a few minutes.
  Contrary to popular belief and what FOX News said, people here read 
the bills. For 40 years we read the bills. But we did not have to read 
the bills; all we had to do was look at the faces of kids dying of 
cancer who had no way to get cured. All we had to do is talk to people 
who came to our office every day who said: Senator, can't you do 
something? My insurance is going up. I can't afford it. I want to get 
out of my job. I worked for GE my whole life. I have a better idea. I 
want to get a better job, but I can't leave because my wife has cancer.
  I don't need to read a bill. I listen to my constituents. That is 
what this is about. Then when they decide they are going to shut down 
the government because they can repeal this law--now they are deciding 
that did not work so well. That is not making a lot of sense to people. 
Now we are going to negotiate on we don't know what, but we have to get 
something out of this. How dare they? How dare this group of radicals, 
led by the Senator from Texas--how dare they take the greatest 
democracy on Earth hostage? Who gives them that right? Do they think 
they are divined by God? They are not--none of us here are.
  God could run this world perfectly, but he doesn't run it. He is in 
Heaven. Until then we, as imperfect as we are, have to figure out His 
will through the democratic process. But they have decided that is not 
good enough.
  I don't know anything on Earth that is better. Maybe they can figure 
it out in the next 48 hours. People have been thinking about that for 6 
or 7 or 8,000 years or longer. I don't think 48 hours is going to help 
  Anyway, we are here today. What I would like to say is that I agree 
with everything my Senate colleagues have said. I urge our colleagues 
to vote to open the government, to not hold the U.S. Government and the 
world and all the kids in the world, all the adults in the world, all 
the businesses in the world hostage over their antics. In Louisiana, 
let me say, we have 400,000 people who need us to fix flood insurance. 
They are truly hurting. We have 200,000 people who live in Houma who 
have been waiting for a levee around their city for 25 years. Then they 
were told by the Corps, yes, they will build it. Then they didn't; yes, 
they will build it. Then they didn't. I need to get on that.
  We have permits in the Gulf of Mexico, I say to Senator Boxer. I see 
my friend from California. I am going to turn it over to her. We have a 
little different view on this, Senator Boxer and I, but people in 
Louisiana would like to drill for oil. We would like to get our permits 
to do that. But because this ideological group has shut down the 
government, there are no permits being issued to produce the oil and 
gas necessary to keep our country strong. I could go on.
  Let us reason together. We can find many issues to negotiate about. I 
am open to many negotiations, as are the Democrats, but to threaten the 
core of this democracy, fought for so long and hard over decades by men 
and women, is beyond the pale.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. BOXER. Madam President, I thank my colleague from Louisiana. I 
am so appreciative of her because she is telling it like it is. She is 
sincere. She cares about her State.
  Let me reassure her, she and I do not agree in terms of the 
parameters of oil drilling and Keystone and other issues. That has 
nothing to do with our friendship. But the Senator is exactly right. 
She deserves to have the permits run through the process. It is 
ridiculous. Just as the roadbuilders are waiting to have the EPA finish 
the environmental studies so they can get these roads--this government 
shutdown is brutal.
  The reason I am rising--very briefly because I want to leave time for 
my friend from Oregon to say a few words--is because I wish to be so 
crystal clear to the people who might be watching us on this unusual 
Saturday session. We are in the midst of a Republican government 
shutdown. I am going to say that again. We are in the midst of a 
Republican shutdown of the government of the United States of America. 
The Senate passed a clean bill to reopen the government. It is sitting 
over there at Speaker Boehner's House, and he is blocking all ability 
to open this government. That is No. 1.
  Now we are getting frighteningly close to a default. We are getting 
very close to the point where America will not be able to pay its 
bills. The cost of that to our Nation, to our people, to our 
reputation, to our economy, to our taxpayers cannot be overstated: 
disaster. We have a chance now to pass a clean debt ceiling bill, which 
means we will not default. I hope my colleagues will vote for it. They 
are filibustering it. We need 60 votes. I hope somebody will come to 
their senses over there because the results of not doing it would be 
disastrous. I think Senator Warner has spoken very clearly about what 
this means from the perspective of both a former governor and a 
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a newspaper 
article entitled ``Business, labor and nonprofits demand that the 
shutdown end `immediately.' ''
  I am going to read a little bit from it and leave the remainder of 
time for my friend from Oregon:

       The most prominent names in business, labor and the 
     nonprofit world on Friday demanded that Washington 
     ``immediately'' end the government shutdown.
       In a joint letter sent to President Obama and lawmakers, 
     leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and 
     United Way Worldwide said the shutdown shouldn't continue 
     another day.
       ``As leaders of business, labor, and the nonprofit sector, 
     we are writing to urge you to end the federal government 
     shutdown immediately,'' the letter says.
       ``While we may disagree on priorities for federal policies 
     and we even have conflicting views about many issues, we are 
     in complete agreement that the current shutdown is harmful 
     and the risk of default is potentially catastrophic for our 
     fragile economy.''

  It goes on. I want to say to my Republican friends: Wake up. This 
isn't a letter from one Democratic group or a liberal group or even a 
centrist group. This is a letter from America, from the business 
leaders and the workers and the nonprofit leaders. You are so out of

[[Page S7425]]

step it is frightening. Vote with us for a clean debt ceiling so we 
will not default and we do not send a terrible message to the markets. 
Open this government now. Take up the Senate bill over there, Speaker 
Boehner, put it up for a vote. Let's open this government and give it 
back to the American people because they deserve it. They do not 
deserve to be treated this way. They do not deserve to be hurt.
  I yield the floor.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                     [From the Hill, Oct. 11, 2013]

Business, Labor and Nonprofits Demand That Shutdown End ``Immediately''

                          (By Kevin Bogardus)

       The most prominent names in business, labor and the 
     nonprofit world on Friday demanded that Washington 
     ``immediately'' end the government shutdown.
       In a joint letter sent to President Obama and lawmakers, 
     leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and 
     United Way Worldwide said the shutdown shouldn't continue 
     another day.
       ``As leaders of business, labor, and the nonprofit sector, 
     we are writing to urge you to end the federal government 
     shutdown immediately,'' the letter says.
       ``While we may disagree on priorities for federal policies 
     and we even have conflicting views about many issues, we are 
     in complete agreement that the current shutdown is harmful 
     and the risk of default is potentially catastrophic for our 
     fragile economy.''
       The signatories on the letter were Tom Donohue, the 
     Chamber's president and CEO; AFL-CIO President Richard 
     Trumka; and Stacey Stewart, the U.S. president of United Way 
       ``Our three disparate sectors share a common view--no one 
     benefits from the current shut-down and everyone will be 
     harmed if the government defaults. It is in the interest of 
     our nation that Congress restore the normal functioning of 
     our political process, fund the government immediately and 
     quickly move to resolve the impasse over the debt ceiling 
     limit,'' the letter says.
       The shutdown is in its 11th day even as the Oct. 17 
     deadline to raise the debt ceiling approaches. Talks between 
     the White House and Republican lawmakers to resolve the 
     budget crisis picked up on Thursday, but an agreement is far 
     from certain.
       Business leaders fear a failure to raise the debt ceiling 
     by the deadline will send the stock market into a tailspin 
     and plunge the economy into recession.
       Labor unions have been protesting the government shutdown 
     since last week. Trade groups have also been active--from the 
     American Hotel & Lodging Association to the International 
     Franchise Association--telling lawmakers that the shutdown 
     has hurt business.
       The Chamber, the AFL-CIO and United Way said both parties 
     need to work together to resolve the impasse.
       ``We urge all of our leaders in Washington to set aside the 
     many issues we disagree about, reach across the aisle and end 
     the shutdown and the threat of a national default,'' the 
     letter concludes.

       To President Obama and Members of Congress: As leaders of 
     business, labor, and the nonprofit sector, we are writing to 
     urge you to end the federal government shutdown immediately.
       Our country is navigating the most challenging economic 
     times in a generation. While we may disagree on priorities 
     for federal policies and we even have conflicting views about 
     many issues, we are in complete agreement that the current 
     shutdown is harmful and the risk of default is potentially 
     catastrophic for our fragile economy.
       Large and small businesses, the workforce (especially 
     federal workers), people who rely on public and privately-
     funded social services, and communities at-large, are being 
     harmed by the shutdown. The federal government is our 
     nation's largest consumer of goods and services, our largest 
     employer, and the single largest source of financial support 
     for state and local governments and for private social 
     services. Several hundred thousand public servants are at 
     home without pay. The longer the shutdown continues, the more 
     people and communities' economic security will be damaged. 
     Ultimately, our economy could be driven back into a 
       As we often have in our history, our country benefits from 
     strong differences of opinion on many important issues 
     affecting both federal legislation and the federal 
     government. We believe it is important that we turn to the 
     normal processes our government has for resolving these 
     issues. We cannot afford to have either our government closed 
     or our nation's creditworthiness called into question as part 
     of the way we resolve these important issues.
       Our three disparate sectors share a common view--no one 
     benefits from the current shutdown and everyone will be 
     harmed if the government defaults. It is in the interest of 
     our nation that Congress restore the normal functioning of 
     our political process, fund the government immediately and 
     quickly move to resolve the impasse over the debt ceiling 
     limit. We urge all of our leaders in Washington to set aside 
     the many issues we disagree about, reach across the aisle and 
     end the shutdown and the threat of a national default.
     Thomas J. Donohue,
       President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
     Richard L. Trumka,
       President, AFL-CIO.
     Stacey D. Stewart,
       U.S. President, United Way Worldwide.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. MERKLEY. The word's ``fiscal responsibility'' have echoed in this 
Chamber time after time and they have been put forward in defense of a 
series of strategies this year that can only be described as incredibly 
  Let's turn the clock back 6 months. We tried to convene a budget 
conference committee with the House and it was blocked. The budget 
conference committee was not blocked with the argument of fiscal 
responsibility. Yet there was a blockade of putting together a budget 
so we could have a smart plan to go forward and a foundation for the 
appropriations bills.
  Then colleagues across the aisle blocked the appropriations process. 
They argued it was fiscally responsible to do so. But that meant 
keeping programs that are not working and continuing them rather than 
replacing them with better plans. So that, too, was irresponsible.
  Then we had folks argue it would be fiscally responsible if we shut 
down the government. But this is costing America. This is decreasing 
revenue. This is increasing expenses and it is increasing the deficit. 
Therefore, we have imposed by this group who argues in the name of 
fiscal responsibility that we have a tax across America, the government 
shutdown tax imposed on families across the land. If that was not 
enough, not enough to block the budget process, not enough to block the 
appropriations process, not enough to shut down the government, now we 
have a group wanting to go even further. They have their grand default 
strategy. They want the United States to default and they argue this 
will do us well fiscally.
  They could not be more wrong. In the Banking Committee we had a 
series of experts come in and we asked the question, What will happen 
if we default? Just simple examples were given. For example, the 
interest rate will go up on mortgages. A 1-percent increase on a 
mortgage means for a family buying a 200,000 house, about $120 more a 
month. That is the shutdown and the default tax that colleagues are 
imposing on families across America.
  It doesn't stop there. Everything based on interest rates goes up. 
Everything based on income from economic activity goes down. Expenses 
of safety net programs go up; in other words, the deficit goes up and 
the debt goes up.
  Let's stop this irresponsibility of blocking the budget process, 
blocking the appropriations process, shutting down the government, and 
imposing a default tax on families across this land. It is not only 
incredibly wrongheaded, it is doing great damage to families in every 
county, in every State across the United States of America. At this 
moment in this vote we are about to have, let's end this attack on the 
American families. Let's end this irresponsibility.

                             Cloture Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     proceed to S. 1569, a bill to ensure the complete and timely 
     payment of the obligations of the United States Government 
     until December 31, 2014.
         Harry Reid, Max Baucus, Patty Murray, Charles E. Schumer, 
           Richard J. Durbin, Barbara A. Mikulski, Sheldon 
           Whitehouse, Mark Udall, Bill Nelson, Barbara Boxer, Jon 
           Tester, Brian Schatz, Benjamin L. Cardin, Kirsten E. 
           Gillibrand, Maria Cantwell, Tim Kaine, Elizabeth 

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum 
call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
motion to proceed to S. 1569, a bill to ensure the complete and timely 
payment of the

[[Page S7426]]

obligations of the United States Government until December 31, 2014, 
and for other purposes, shall be brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Oklahoma (Mr. Coburn) and the Senator from Oklahoma (Mr. 
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 53, nays 45, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 216 Leg.]


     Johnson (SD)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)


     Johnson (WI)

                             NOT VOTING--2


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 53, the nays are 
45. Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted 
in the affirmative, the motion is rejected.
  The majority leader.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, was I originally recorded as ``yes''?
  Mr. REID. The record should reflect that I have changed that to 
  Mr. President, I enter a motion to reconsider the vote by which 
cloture was not invoked on the motion to proceed to S. 1569.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The motion is entered.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senators be 
permitted to speak now during our morning hour business for up to 10 
minutes each.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. I have just been told by my able assistant here that we are 
still on the motion to proceed. So we are not in morning business.
  Now, Mr. President, just a quick announcement: Democrats will caucus 
in the Mansfield Room forthwith, right now.
  Mr. President, I think it would be appropriate for everyone--this has 
been cleared with Senator McConnell.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate will be in order.
  Mr. REID. Following the remarks of Senator Landrieu and Senator 
Johanns, I would ask that--well, I will say that the Senate will stand 
in recess subject to the call of the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Louisiana.
  Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I know the Members of the Senate are 
going to be retiring to caucuses to try to figure out how we are going 
to move forward, and I am confident, with the good work of the people 
in this Chamber, we will find a way.
  Senator Johanns and I have been working, along with many of our 
colleagues, to try to come to some resolution about funding a city in 
the United States, the District of Columbia, that is not an agency of 
the Federal Government that happens to be the city that the seat of 
government sits in.
  While I am not going to ask for consent now, I want to, through the 
Chair, ask Senator Johanns to express, if he could, a few views about 
this, as we try to work our way forward for sometime maybe later this 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mr. JOHANNS. Mr. President, I appreciate the good working 
relationship with Senator Landrieu. We have been talking back and 
forth. We exchanged phone calls through the evening--never quite did 
connect--but we have been talking here today. It is our desire to find 
a solution to this issue.
  We understand that what the District of Columbia is asking for is the 
simple ability to use its funding. We are talking and working, and I am 
optimistic we are going to find a solution.
  I would also say, as a former mayor, I can only understand the 
sleepless nights the mayor is going through. So both of us want to try 
to solve this issue, and I think the Senate does.
  What I would like to do is continue our conversations over the next 
hour or so. They have been fruitful, and I think we are working our way 
toward a solution.
  I appreciate the opportunity to work with Senator Landrieu.
  Ms. LANDRIEU. I yield the floor.
 Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I am opposed to S. 1569. Our 
national debt is nearly $17 trillion and has nearly doubled since the 
beginning of the Obama administration. If we allow the Nation to 
continue on its current path, it will only lead to economic 
destruction. Raising the debt ceiling without any strings attached 
would be irresponsible and reckless.
  The President has already increased the debt limit five times since 
coming to office. The first occurred just a month after President Obama 
took office. At $789 billion, the increase was provided to pay for his 
massive, unsuccessful stimulus package. With supermajorities in the 
House and the Senate, the President was able to push nearly everything 
he wanted into law.
  Because the stimulus package ended up being more expensive than 
expected, the President got another increase of $290 billion just 10 
months later. Then, just 2 months after that, the President pushed 
another increase through, this time for $1.9 trillion. Thirteen months 
into his Presidency, President Obama had already increased the debt 
limit by nearly $3 trillion.
  Then, following the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans in Congress 
welcomed reinforcements, which changed the dynamic. With control of the 
House and an increased margin in the Senate, Republicans were able to 
force spending cut concessions from the President before agreeing to 
any debt limit increase.
  In August 2010, after nearly exceeding the debt limit, the President 
agreed to increase the debt limit by $2.1 trillion in exchange for $2.1 
trillion in spending cuts, including what has become known as 
sequestration. While I supported the total reduction in spending 
enacted by the bill, I voted against it because I believe the cuts 
should have been allocated in a different way. In total, nearly $1 
trillion was cut from national security spending, which is having a 
very real, hollowing effect on our ability to protect the Nation. 
Further, these cuts did not include anything from mandatory entitlement 
programs like food stamps, and too little of it came from other 
domestic programs that are better suited for the States to run.
  Earlier this year, the President demanded another debt limit 
increase. He received it, but only after agreeing to force Senate 
Democrats to consider a budget, which until this year had never been 
done during the Obama administration. This bill also suspended 
Congressional pay until a budget was agreed to. I oppose this bill 
because I do not believe that simply passing a budget was enough. Real 
spending cuts with real reforms to our permanent programs are needed.
  Today we find ourselves in the same situation, and my position has 
not changed. Spending is continuing to spiral out of control, and if we 
do nothing to rein it in, our national debt will skyrocket to $25 
trillion in the next decade. Even the President agrees with those 
numbers. We cannot allow this to happen, which is why I oppose S.