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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Upcoming Work To Extend Government Funding And The Importance Of Avoiding A Harmful Government Shutdown

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the need to pass a temporary funding extension to avert a government shutdown as Congress completes the appropriations process. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

As the Senate begins its work for the year, the most immediate need on the calendar is avoiding a government shutdown and fully funding the government for fiscal year 2024.

A shutdown is looming over us starting on January 19th, about one week away.

For the most part, both parties – Democrats and Republicans – agree we don’t want a shutdown. Instead, we want to work together to pass the twelve appropriations bills based off topline funding levels that Congressional leadership agreed to last Sunday. Chair Murray, Vice Chair Collins, Chair Granger, and Ranking Member DeLauro are all committed to working as quickly as possible to make that happen.

Unfortunately, it has become crystal clear that it will take more than a week to finish the appropriations process.

So today, I am taking the first procedural step for the Senate to pass a temporary extension of government funding, so that the government does not shut down on January 19th.

What I am doing today is filing cloture on a shell bill we can act on next week. Members should be ready to take the first procedural vote on this vehicle upon our return after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

I am taking this step because even a temporary extension of government funding takes about a week to pass through the Senate, so we want to act with enough time before the January 19th deadline.

I urge my Republican colleagues in the Senate to work with us to keep this process moving quickly on the floor. Leader McConnell and I are in discussions about this very issue. The vast majority of us are all on the same page that a government shutdown would be a recipe for chaos.

Now, there are those on the hard right over in the House who think they can bully their colleagues and the House and the country into a shutdown. Amazingly, this band of hard right extremists actually say a shutdown would be a good thing.

But to those thirty or so hard right extremists, how on Earth would it be good for the country to freeze – for example – nutrition programs that benefit seven million women, infants, and children – many of those women, pregnant.

How would it be good for the country to close regional VA offices and keep our veterans who served us – many of whom risked their lives for us –  waiting in line to get the benefits they are entitled to?

How would it be good for the country to furlough food inspectors that ensure the groceries we buy don’t make us sick?

Or delay new applications for military retirement benefits?

These are just a few of the things that will happen if we shut down next week.

When the hard right says they want a shutdown, they are saying they want these things: VA closures, no food inspections, delayed military benefits, and so much more.

This just shows you that the hard right is not serious about governing. The only tactic in their playbook is to try and bully the rest of Congress and the country to bend to their extremist views.

But here is the incontrovertible truth: the White House is controlled by a Democrat. The Senate has a Democratic majority. And the Republican majority in the House is about as narrow as it can get. So, it takes compromise to get anything done in these conditions of divided government. The topline agreement we reached last week has borne that out.

And I am hopeful that reasonable members on both sides of the aisle, in both chambers, are ready to work together to ensure a government shutdown is avoided.