January 22, 2019

Van Hollen Talks Shutdown, Trump Deal on Senate Floor

“Since when does the President dictate what we do here in the United States Senate? That's a question for every Member.” 

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen spoke on the Senate floor on the current status of the shutdown. Excerpts of the Senator’s remarks are available below and video of the Senator’s full speech is available here:

“On December 11th of last year, at a meeting at the White House, President Trump said he would be ‘proud’ – ‘proud’ – to shut down the government of the United States if he didn't get things 100 percent his way. And then 11 days later on December 22nd, President Trump shut down the government. We are now 32 days into the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States. And I say to President Trump – that is nothing to be proud of. The damage is growing by the day in every part of our country and across different sectors of our economy…”

“That is nothing to be proud of, Mr. President. It's not anything to be proud of that so many Federal employees are not able to make their rent or mortgage payments, or the monthly tuition installment payments for their children's college education...”

“The majority in the Senate is complicit in the shutdown because we have not been allowed a vote on two bills that are on the Senate calendar that we could vote on today and would reopen the government. I have one of those bills right here. I brought it to the floor in the past. It's a bill that would open eight of the nine Federal departments that have nothing to do with the Homeland Security Department, or border security, or a wall. Eight of the nine of them. This bill is sitting on the Senate calendar. We could vote on it today. And yet, the Majority Leader refuses to bring it up for a vote. And the great irony is this bill that is on the Senate calendar contains provisions that have already been supported by the United States Senate by overwhelming bipartisan majorities...”

“Instead of doing our job, we're going to contract out our responsibilities to the President of the United States. But apparently it's going to get worse because now, as I understand it, the Majority Leader has changed his position, and now he will allow a vote on something in the Senate chamber, but guess what it is? It's on the President's proposal. Now – not only are we going to essentially say that we won't vote on something the President doesn't like – but now the one thing that the Majority Leader says we will vote on is what the President wants.”

“I'm okay having a vote on the President's proposal – but if we're going to vote on that, my goodness, we should also vote on the bill that's already on the Senate calendar that has already received strong bipartisan support of the United States Senate. So I do have a question for the Majority Leader. If we're going to be voting on President Trump's most repeat proposal, are we also going to be able to have a vote on the bill that was already on the Senate calendar that's already been supported by a bipartisan majority that would reopen the government right away? That's my question. Because let's vote, and let's just see what happens.”

“But let's vote on not just what the President of the United States wants to. Since when does the President dictate what we do here in the United States Senate? That's a question for every Member.”