Floor and Committee Statements

“Mr. President, all Democrats and Republicans, pay close attention.

“I have been here for 20 years, and I have seen a lot of shutdowns--about five of them. I want to talk about what they have produced.

“The first one with Bill Clinton produced Monica Lewinsky. That is how they got into all the trouble--because she was an intern at the White House. Idle hands are never good.

“For us, Newt Gingrich lost his job in the same shutdown. He lost his job because he lost six votes in the House and couldn’t get reelected as Speaker. I had to replace him. I am kind of glad that happened, but it is still not a good reason to have a shutdown.

“A few years later, great Senators – John McCain being one of them and Ted Kennedy being another – worked their fingers to the bone and came up with a great immigration bill that I was a part of in my first term in the Senate. We got castigated and ruined because, all of a sudden, ‘amnesty’ became a four-letter word, and political consultants found it to be kind of an easy way to run against people in the party.

“For 15 years, we have been beating each other over something that ought to be easy to do, which is to change for the better. A lot of people think Congress’s job is for us to come to Washington and change things for the better. When it comes to immigration, all we ever change is the subject. We never end the debate, and we never pass a result. Oftentimes, we call each other names for the wrong reason.

“I am here for one reason – to thank my colleagues who are on the floor. To all of the others who are ready to do some business, I am ready to do some business. It is time we put the workers in our government back to work. It is time we did what we promised the people in the United States of America we would do. And it is time we went to work because when everybody is out of work, it is our fault. They are the people who carry the mail, who empty the garbage, who cook in the cafeteria, who clean up the parks, and they do everything without complaining whatsoever. They are out there – many of them not even being paid right now – while we are sitting here, debating a subject that we can’t reach a solution on – period.

“We need to take our armor off, leave our weapons at the door, walk in the room, and shake hands.

“We need to grab Ben Cardin’s hand and say: ‘Ben, thank you for making an effort as a Democrat.’

“Lisa, thank you, as a Republican, for supporting it.

“Let’s sit down, and let’s pass a bill we can all agree on that gets Americans back to work and restores the spirit of Ellis Island and the pride of the United States of America.

“I yield back.”

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