GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 9
(House of Representatives - January 16, 2019)

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[Pages H667-H671]
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                          GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2019, the gentlewoman from Michigan (Ms. Tlaib) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.

                             General Leave

  Ms. TLAIB. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include 
extraneous material on the subject of my Special Order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Michigan?
  There was no objection.

        Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on His 90th Birthday

  Ms. TLAIB. Madam Speaker, I rise today to take a moment as we honored 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on his

[[Page H668]]

90th birthday yesterday, and we continue to honor him throughout this 
week and next Monday.
  During this time, we recognize that we are in a society that is still 
riddled with injustices. As Representatives, we have a duty to lift up 
those who are marginalized and work to ensure that we continue a path 
toward justice for every person. No person should ever feel less than 
in the United States of America.
  May we remember his legacy and his words and recommit to fighting for 
justice and equality. May we also speak out loudly and unapologetically 
about the ills of our society and work every single day to stay on the 
right side of justice.
  Madam Speaker, in regard to the government shutdown, I am very 
passionate about making sure that we put a human face to this crisis, 
so I rise today, during the 26th day of this reckless government 
  The real crisis here is the negative human impact. In the homes of 
each of the Federal workers across this Nation, nearly a month without 
pay. Our Federal workers are having to go to pawn shops to get cash to 
live. This is not right.
  Yes, there is a crisis for the families in my district who have 
corporate polluters today in their backyards that do not have any EPA 
inspectors monitoring our air quality.
  Yes, there is a crisis for the families who are wondering if their 
housing assistance will come next month from HUD.
  The shutdown will have a long-lasting negative impact on our lives, 
and it must end immediately.
  Madam Speaker, I would like to take some time today to share stories 
about residents in Michigan who are impacted directly.
  Gregory Simpkins, who is president of the American Federation of 
Government Employees Local 778, said four of the union's TSA employees 
quit last week and three the week before. Right now, TSA employees are 
deemed essential and still going to work but are not getting paid.
  Ms. Wilson, one of our TSA employees, said the morale is so low she 
has never seen anything like it. With personal budgets stretched, she 
is afraid they will lose even more workers. One worker said to her that 
he can't pay for gas money to get to work, and he is worried and scared 
for the future of his family and for his life.
  Federal environmental protection workers right now are not at work 
protecting us, so when I think of this, I think of Line 5, which is a 
very dangerous oil pipeline that threatens the drinking water supply 
for Michiganders and our freshwater in the Great Lakes.
  We are in trouble, Madam Speaker, because the computers that run that 
model for emergency response is shut down during this crisis.
  Mark Coryell, president of the American Federation of Government 
Employees Local 3907, represents EPA workers who work in the Motor 
Vehicle Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He and his 
colleagues are furloughed, meaning they are not working right now and 
not getting their pay.
  For the public, this means they are not working on regulations that 
are now lagging because they are not showing up. Their lab certifies 
fuel efficiency numbers automakers display when selling cars to ensure 
that they protect our air quality and abide by the emission standards.
  So, Madam Speaker, this is reckless and irresponsible. It is reckless 
that Mitch McConnell's Senate cannot muster up the courage to reopen 
the government.
  Senator McConnell works for the American people. He has been missing 
in action during this crisis. He doesn't work for the President of the 
United States; he works for the American people. I ask him to stand up 
and do what is right for all of us and for our Nation and to open up 
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Ms. Omar).
  Ms. OMAR. Madam Speaker, I rise today to mark the 26th day of what is 
now the longest running government shutdown in history, a shutdown 
which is nothing more than a manufactured crisis designed to distract 
us from the instability and dysfunction that rules the Trump White 
  Trump has orchestrated this shutdown because he is looking for 
someone else to blame for the ineffectiveness of his administration. He 
wants to point to us here in Congress and claim that we are the reason 
he is failing to lead this country.
  But that blame, Madam Speaker, belongs to Trump--and Trump only. He 
singlehandedly forced seven agencies to stop their crucial work, work 
that impacts the health and safety of every American.
  Soon, millions of people could start to go hungry as the government 
runs out of money to fund nutritional assistance through the SNAP 
  Thousands could face eviction and become homeless as HUD becomes 
unable to deliver desperately needed housing assistance.
  Federal courts could shut down.
  Our aviation system could come to a halt as flights are grounded.
  And the list, Madam Speaker, goes on and on.
  But even before this shameful shutdown began, the executive branch 
agencies were already struggling to operate under Trump's leadership, 
or the lack thereof. As of today, there are more than 200 critical 
agency positions for which Trump has failed to even put forward a 
nominee. That is more than 200 agencies, offices, and programs that are 
operating without defined leadership, full staff, or resources.
  Consequently, even once we are able to end this debilitating 
shutdown, our Federal Government will still be operating at less than 
full capacity so long as we have an ineffective, ego-driven President 
at the helm.
  As Members of Congress, we took an oath to put the people of this 
country first, to protect their rights, safety, and well-being. That is 
why we, here in the House, voted on day one of this Congress, and 
nearly every day since, to reopen this government.
  The President took a similar oath, and it is time that he honor it 
because, Madam Speaker, the American people deserve better.
  The 400,000 furloughed Federal employees deserve better, including 
the 6,000 workers in my district, alone, who are currently wondering 
how they are going to pay their rent at the first of the month and if 
they are able to afford simple necessities like childcare and food. 
They deserve better.

                              {time}  1900

  If the President wants to have a real conversation about border 
security, we are ready to have it. We can talk about finding a solution 
to our broken immigration system and how to adopt policies that extend 
humanity and compassion to migrants and refugees.
  Every day, families are fleeing violence and untold hardships in 
countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These people are 
running from situations that are so brutal, that most Americans, 
thankfully, could not comprehend, but as a refugee from Somalia, I do. 
So I invite the President to engage in a real conversation with 
Congress on immigration.
  If he wants, we can talk about the $2 million the Guatemalan 
Government paid to D.C. lobbyists and how our government is cozying up 
to corrupt regimes in that country.
  If he is interested, we could also talk about the U.S. funding and 
training for Honduras security forces that are involved in serious 
human rights violations and how these policies that we support are 
forcing people to flee from their homeland.
  If he wants to talk, we are ready to talk, but we don't need a 
government shutdown to do it.
  I join the similar calls made by my colleagues today, and I demand 
that the President end his temper tantrum and quest for a racist and 
cynical big wall, and I demand that he work with us to reopen the 
government before any more damage is done.
  Enough is enough. The American people deserve better.
  Ms. TLAIB. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from New York 
(Ms. Ocasio-Cortez).
  Ms. OCASIO-CORTEZ. Madam Speaker, today I rise to tell the story of 
one of my constituents, Yahey Obeid.
  Mr. Obeid was born in Yemen and came to the United States when he was 
8 years old. His childhood dream was to become a pilot, and he knew and 
felt that in the United States, all things are possible and his dream 
could come true.

[[Page H669]]

  Mr. Obeid's dream did come true. He has been a Federal employee for 
14 years, has two children, and a mortgage for his home in the Morris 
Park neighborhood of the Bronx. He studied hard, got his pilot's 
license, and is now an air traffic controller supervisor at John F. 
Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
  I spoke with Mr. Obeid today over the phone. He and air traffic 
controllers like him across the country missed their first paycheck 
this past week. He was telling me about how stressful his job is. Every 
single day, air traffic controllers have thousands of people's lives in 
their hands. With weather changes, flight delays, staffing 
complexities, and a myriad of other issues, their days almost never go 
exactly to plan. His job is to find solutions, analyze and adapt in 
real time to keep people safe in one of the busiest airspaces in the 
United States and the world.
  It is terrifying to think that almost every single air traffic 
controller in the United States is currently distracted at work because 
they don't know when their next paycheck is coming.
  Federal workers' jobs are stressful enough. The rise in New York 
City's cost of living is stressful enough. The fact that Mr. Obeid's 
family cannot be reunified due to fears over the Muslim ban is 
stressful enough. His several-thousand-dollar-a-month Bronx mortgage is 
stressful enough. The anti-immigrant sentiment of this administration 
is stressful enough.
  The truth of this shutdown is that it is actually not about a wall, 
it is not about the border, and it is certainly not about the well-
being of everyday Americans.
  The truth is this shutdown is about the erosion of American democracy 
and the subversion of our most basic governmental norms.
  It is not normal to hold 800,000 workers' paychecks hostage. It is 
not normal to shut down the government when we don't get what we want. 
It is not normal for public servants to run away and hide from the 
public that they serve. And it is certainly not normal to starve the 
people we serve for a proposal that is wildly unpopular among the 
American people.
  Each and every Member of this body has a responsibility to this 
Nation and to everyone in the United States of America, whether they 
voted for us or not. This President shares in that responsibility as 
well, which means he has a responsibility to my constituent, Mr. Obeid.
  President Trump has a responsibility to all air traffic controllers, 
FDA inspectors, TSA workers, and he has a responsibility to maintain 
the basic functioning of the United States Government.
  Ms. TLAIB. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from California 
(Mr. Levin).
  Mr. LEVIN of California. Madam Speaker, on my first day in office, I 
joined Democrats and Republicans in voting to reopen the government and 
end this senseless and now record shutdown.
  And we have passed Republican legislation. Make no mistake: this is 
the same legislation that Senate Republicans supported just last month 
to fund the Federal Government, but instead of taking that legislation 
up for a vote, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have joined 
President Trump in what can be best described as a temper tantrum.
  As the father of a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, occasionally I know 
something about a temper tantrum.
  Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have joined President Trump in 
holding 800,000 Federal workers hostage over a demand for an 
ineffective, wasteful wall, a fifth century technology for a 21st 
century problem.
  Don't get us wrong. Democrats continue to support strong, smart, 
effective border security solutions, including the following:
  First, we support new drug, weapons, and contraband scanning 
technology at official ports of entry; installing new technology to 
eventually scan all commercial and passenger vehicles for illegal drugs 
and other contraband at our ports of entry. According to both CBP and 
DEA, 90 percent of heroin, 88 percent of cocaine, 87 percent of 
methamphetamine, and 80 percent of fentanyl being smuggled into the 
U.S. are seized at official ports of entry, not areas between the ports 
of entry, where President Trump wants to build his wasteful border 

  Second, we support advanced technology to detect unauthorized 
crossings; cameras, sensors, and radar to spot moving people and 
objects in any weather or time of day that are mounted on towers and 
border patrol vehicles and on drones to surveil tough terrain.
  Third, we support more customs personnel, filling the more than 3,000 
vacancies for customs officers who facilitate trade and travel at our 
land, air, and sea ports of entry, inspect commercial and passenger 
vehicles for illegal drugs and other contraband, and ensure that 
travelers are vetted and screened before entering the United States.
  Fourth, we support expanded port of entry infrastructure, building up 
our port of entry infrastructure to improve security and better 
facilitate trade and travel, ending the long delays for visitors and 
commercial shipments that cost our country billions in economic 
activity and thousands of jobs.
  We support all these measures, and we have for some time, and we will 
continue to support these measures, but we will not waste billions of 
taxpayer dollars on an ineffective, expensive wall that can be tunneled 
under, climbed over, or cut through, a wall that Mexico was supposed to 
pay for.
  A discussion about border security is no reason for President Trump 
to keep government shut down. Perhaps even more importantly, we cannot 
and must not allow this President or any President to hold our 
government and Federal workers hostage every time we have a 
  Federal workers in the communities I serve in California are being 
directly hurt by this shutdown, just as they are being hurt all across 
this country.
  I recently heard from a Fish and Wildlife Service employee whose 
coworkers don't know how they are going to pay their bills and make 
ends meet.
  I heard from members of the Coast Guard. And, yes, the Coast Guard is 
being impacted by this shutdown, because they are funded through the 
Department of Homeland Security. I heard from the Coast Guard.
  I heard from air traffic controllers, and they are being forced to 
work without pay, and this becomes a security issue.
  If this President and Senate Republicans truly cared about security, 
they would want to fund the Coast Guard and they would want to fund air 
traffic controllers and they would want to fund TSA agents at our 
  I have heard from veterans. I have a huge number of veterans in my 
district. One-third of the Federal workforce consists of veterans, both 
Federal employees and contractors, and they have been negatively 
impacted by this.
  So, Mr. President, you claim to care about veterans. How can you 
allow this to continue to hundreds of thousands of veterans who have 
served our country and who are working without pay?
  The solution that we Democrats support is simple. Let's reopen the 
government, and then we can talk about the best way to secure our 
  Earlier today, I was honored to join some of my freshmen colleagues 
in trying to deliver a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 
simply asking him on behalf of the freshman class to end this shutdown. 
We couldn't find him, but we will keep at it.
  We have got to get this government back open again. We have got to 
get people back to work.
  Ms. TLAIB. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from California 
(Ms. Porter).
  Ms. PORTER. Madam Speaker, huge critical elements of our Federal 
Government have now been shut down for 26 days. 800,000 blameless 
Federal employees have already missed their paychecks, and they don't 
know when their next paychecks are coming.
  These furloughed workers are in crisis. They are facing impending 
loan defaults, utility shutoffs, long-term reductions in their credit 
scores, and potentially foreclosure or eviction proceedings. They are 
unable to buy necessities for themselves and their families, including 
necessary medications like insulin.
  About 42,000 of those Federal workers are in my home State of 
California, and they are hurting. The costs of housing are a real 
challenge for families in my district, California's 45th. Thousands of 
Orange County residents

[[Page H670]]

rely on Federal affordable housing programs to pay the rent each month.
  Nationwide, this shutdown has already forced the expiration of over 
1,100 rental assistance contracts between the government and private 
landlords and developers. These housing units are at risk of being 
permanently removed from our affordable housing stock.
  In my district, California's 45th, the tenants of 749 homes rely on 
the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help pay their 
monthly rent. Our local Public Housing Authority distributes those 
funds to needy families. As required by law, 75 percent of these funds 
help applicants who are low-income.
  Orange County's rental costs are the ninth highest in the country, 
averaging over $2,000 per month. The cost of living is entirely 
unaffordable for many tenants without this Federal housing assistance.

                              {time}  1915

  This past spring, our Federal Reserve found that 40 percent of 
Americans--4 in 10 Americans--don't have the cash to pay for an 
unexpected $400 expense without selling a belonging or borrowing funds. 
American workers cannot withstand the financial shock of going unpaid.
  For workers living paycheck to paycheck, this shutdown can easily 
spiral into bankruptcy. Even if we provide workers with backpay, which 
we have passed legislation to do, it will not make the harms of this 
shutdown erased.
  The government isn't paying for groceries or utilities or child care. 
When the government reopens, it won't be paying the late fees that 
these workers have incurred in the meantime. It also won't pay the 
interest on new loans taken out by Federal workers to try to make ends 
meet until the President chooses to put people over politics.
  These families will still have $30 late fees on credit card payments. 
They will still have to pay interest on mortgage payments, which can be 
hundreds of dollars. They will still have delinquencies on their credit 
reports, which can drop their credit scores and stay on their records 
for up to 7 years.
  That is why I have asked the major financial institutions of this 
country to step up and provide relief to Federal workers and their 
families who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in 
financial distress. These banks and credit card companies should waive 
fees, pause debt payments, and stop eviction and foreclosure 
proceedings until weeks after workers receive their pay.
  Lenders should also stop reporting negative information to credit 
reporting agencies during this difficult time.
  Many of our Nation's credit unions are offering zero percent 
interest, short-term loans to help furloughed workers.
  I have sent letters to all of the Nation's largest lenders and, each 
day, have been meeting with representatives of the major banks, urging 
them to do more to help those affected by this shutdown. I have been 
pleased with some of their responses.
  For example, Discover is allowing furloughed workers to use its 
existing disaster relief program to cope with the financial shock of 
going unpaid. This generous program halts all payments and prevents the 
imposition of late fees.
  Ally Financial has created a customer assistance program that offers 
help to those hurt by the shutdown. Ally is willing to refund 
transaction fees, to eliminate bounced check fees, to waive late 
charges, and to remove early withdrawal penalties on CDs and other 
savings accounts.
  Wells Fargo is waiving fees and pausing negative credit reporting, 
auto repossessions, and foreclosure proceedings for furloughed workers.
  I urge all lenders to contact our office to share what they are doing 
proactively to help customers, their customers, who are going unpaid 
through no fault of their own.
  I will continue to share with my colleagues what banks and lenders 
are doing so that they may do outreach to constituents in their 
districts who are being affected by the furlough.
  The damage the shutdown has caused, and will continue to cause, 
doesn't end there. Thousands of IRS employees have been furloughed 
because of the shutdown, which has delayed tax refunds and income 
verification processing.
  Without income verification documents, lenders may not be able to 
finance or refinance mortgages or other loans. For families 
experiencing recent financial hardship, access to refinancing could be 
critical to helping them right themselves.
  These delays in tax processing are particularly harmful to low-income 
filers, especially those who qualify for the earned income tax credit 
and the additional child tax credit. The EITC is one of our 
government's largest anti-poverty programs, and millions of taxpayers 
rely on tax refunds each year to catch up on bills, to pay off debts, 
and to fund items like delayed medical procedures.
  Understaffing will make it difficult for the IRS to answer taxpayer 
questions this year. This is the first year that taxpayers will be 
filing after the Republican tax law was implemented.
  As a result of President Trump's tax law, Californians are, for the 
first time in our country's history, unable to deduct all of their 
State and local taxes. The elimination of this deduction is incredibly 
punitive to Californians in my district. At this moment, Californians, 
who are about to owe more Federal taxes than they did a year ago, don't 
have access to the Federal Government, to the IRS, to help them 
navigate this tax morass.
  From late January through March 2, 2018, the IRS paid out tax refunds 
totaling over $147 billion to 48.5 million households. Californians 
submit more tax returns than any other State. For families expecting an 
average refund of about $3,000, the shutdown will have very real 
  If that weren't enough, the shutdown has also created an open season 
on the American consumer. Consumer protection websites run by agencies, 
like the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications 
Commission, are closed due to lack of funding.
  The FTC maintains the National Do Not Call Registry. Consumers can't 
sign up, and telemarketers can't check the updated lists. There is no 
one on the beat to enforce robocalling regulations.
  The FTC has also shut down its critical website In 
normal times, victims of identity theft can use this website to file a 
report and get the paperwork that they need to prove to banks and 
businesses that someone stole their identity. That website is no longer 
  I want to take a minute to speak directly to every American hurt in 
any way by the shutdown.
  Whether you are a Federal employee or someone who relies for support 
on one of those employees, I encourage you to ask for help. The 
shutdown is not your fault and you could not have predicted the longest 
shutdown in our history. I know how hard it is to ask for help. But do 
not let embarrassment prevent you from protecting your credit score and 
maintaining your financial well-being.
  I have spent the last few days meeting with those representatives 
from our Nation's banks. Every bank I have met with has said to please 
contact them and ask for help, and do it sooner rather than later. They 
will waive your late fees. They will push back your payment deadlines, 
whether it is car insurance or your mortgage or credit card or some 
other line of credit. If you need something specific, like to delay 
foreclosure or have a bounced check fee waived, ask for that thing.
  I have cast my vote to end the shutdown multiple times, and it makes 
me sick to think about how working families are hurting. I have 
dedicated my career to protecting consumers from financial hardship and 
from bankruptcy. I am proud to have the opportunity to use that 
expertise to help my constituents and unpaid Federal workers across 
this country.
  Call your lender, call your bank, call your credit card company and 
ask for help. And if you need more help, call my office. Until the 
President ends this shutdown, it will be my priority in Congress to 
help all those who are being hurt by it.
  Ms. TLAIB. Madam Speaker, as you can see, there has been a huge 
challenge among the American people across the country. In my district 
alone, I have the third poorest congressional district, with ZIP Codes 
with the worst air quality in the country.

[[Page H671]]

  Many of the workers who are not showing up to work are directly 
providing critical services to our residents back home. It is important 
for us to see beyond, obviously, the numbers of 800,000 workers. What 
were they doing? How were they providing for the American people? How 
were they serving our Nation?
  We to continue to be very focused on the fact that this is a huge 
crisis that needs to be addressed, and we need the leadership of the 
Senate to rise and to support the bills, the same ones we sent to them 
before our January swearing in. They supported it then. I have no idea 
why they haven't been able to pass again the same exact bills they 
supported before we became the leaders in the majority in the House.
  Madam Speaker, I, again, urge all of the Americans who are directly 
impacted by the shutdown to please reach out to us. Seek out help.
  As the gentlewoman from California said, we are here to serve you. We 
are here to help you in any way that we can.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. WATERS. Madam Speaker, today is day 26 of the Trump Shutdown. 
Federal workers missed their first paycheck last Friday, and still 
there is no end in sight to this cruel and senseless shutdown. It is 
truly shameful that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are 
so desperate to secure taxpayer funding for an irrational border wall 
that they're willing to harm hardworking Americans and jeopardize 
national security by shutting down the federal government.
  This outrageous shutdown has furloughed 400,000 federal workers, and 
it's forcing another 400,000 federal workers to work without pay. Among 
those working without pay are 53,000 Transportation Security 
Administration employees, more than 24,000 air traffic controllers and 
other Federal Aviation Administration employees, 54,000 Customs and 
Border Protection agents and customs officers, 42,000 service members 
in the United States Coast Guard, 17,000 Bureau of Prisons correctional 
officers, 14,000 FBI agents, and 6,000 Forest Service firefighters.
  These dedicated public servants go to work every day for the American 
people. These hardworking people keep us safe. They should not have to 
worry about how they will keep a roof over their heads and feed their 
  My congressional district is home to Los Angeles/International 
Airport (LAX), the sixth busiest airport in the world and the third 
busiest in the United States. In 2017, more than 84 million passengers 
used LAX. All of these passengers depend upon the TSA's airport 
security screeners and the FAA's air traffic controllers to get them to 
their destinations safely.
  The Trump shutdown doesn't just affect government employees. An 
economic study in 2011 reported that operations at LAX generated 
294,400 jobs in Los Angeles County with labor income of $13.6 billion 
and economic output of more than $39.7 billion. The economic vitality 
of Los Angeles County depends upon the safety and security of LAX and 
the TSA and FAA employees who work there.
  TSA employees are dedicated public servants who risk their lives 
every day to keep our nation's airports and travelers safe. On November 
1, 2013, a Transportation Security Officer named Gerardo Hernandez was 
tragically killed in the line of duty during an active shooter incident 
at LAX. He was the first TSA employee to be killed in the line of duty, 
and my colleagues and I passed the bipartisan Gerardo Hernandez Airport 
Security Act of 2015 in his honor. Our President has forgotten the 
critical role these American patriots serve in our national security.
  Today, at LAX and airports throughout the country, Transportation 
Security Officers like Gerardo Hernandez are working without pay.
  The Trump Shutdown is endangering public safety, national security, 
and the livelihoods of the people whose job it is to protect us.
  Democrats want to end this shutdown now. On Day One, the new 
Democratic House of Representatives passed Senate Republican 
legislation to end the Trump Shutdown and re-open government. Despite 
the Republicans' relentless obstruction, Democrats have continued to 
take further action to re-open government, passing individual Senate 
Republican appropriations bills to re-open all government agencies.
  American families and workers should not be punished because of a 
policy disagreement in Washington, D.C. Donald Trump should stop 
holding the safety, security, and paychecks of workers in my district, 
and throughout the country, hostage. He must re-open the government 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to refrain from 
engaging in personalities toward the President.