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Murray Urges Senate to Build on Bipartisan Budget Deal, Support Critical Investments in Families, Communities, and National Security

Jan 15 2014

Murray Highlights Bipartisan Work on Budget Deal, Appropriations; Calls on Congress to Continuing Working Across the Aisle

Murray: “…if both sides are willing to continue making some tough choices, there’s much more we can do together to create jobs, strengthen the recovery, and build a foundation for stronger, broader growth in the future.”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks on the Senate floor in support of appropriations legislation that fills in the details of the Bipartisan Budget Act that Murray negotiated with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) in December. Murray highlighted key investments in families and communities in Washington State and across the country, and called on Congress to pass the legislation and build on it by renewing emergency unemployment benefits and continuing to deliver for the American people through compromise and bipartisanship.

Key Excerpts From Senator Murray’s Speech:

“…even though the economy has made progress, far too many Americans still aren’t feeling the benefits. Too many are working more hours and earning less, or wondering whether they can afford to send their kids to college, or worrying that they won’t be able to save enough to retire. These are the kinds of problems we need to be thinking about and solving.”

“There is a lot we need to get done. And if one lesson came out of the constant crises last year, it’s that in a divided government, the only way to get things done is through compromise and bipartisanship.”

“The budget deal Chairman Ryan and I reached is a good example. It wasn’t the bill I would write on my own. It wasn’t the bill Chairman Ryan would write on his own either. But after hearing from families and communities in my home state of Washington, I knew we needed to do more to restore critical investments that are being lost as a result of sequestration, and we needed to break out of the constant crises that have caused so much gridlock and dysfunction over the last few years.”

“…in reaching a deal we were able to lay some groundwork so Chairman Mikulski and Chairman Rogers could move forward on the important work of funding the government. Families and communities across the country will be better off as a result of their leadership.”

“This legislation invests in starting our children off strong, by expanding access to Early Head Start for infants and families. It also expands access to Pell grants to help more young adults afford higher education. And it supports other priorities like medical research, which help create jobs and spur innovation.  In my home state of Washington I know all these investments, as well as others like funding for the Columbia River Crossing project, and for repairs and improvements at Joint Base Lewis McChord, will make a huge difference.”

“…if this legislation is passed into law—which I strongly believe it should be—we will have a choice to make. We could build on the bipartisan work done so far, and continue reaching agreement through compromise like people across the country do every day. Or we could see more of the all-or-nothing approach which caused so much damage last year.”

“I was extremely disappointed that yesterday, my colleagues across the aisle rejected a good-faith offer to provide relief to workers and families who are still struggling to get back on their feet, even after Democrats, time and time again, offered compromises to try to get a deal. We tried hard to reach a fair agreement both sides could support. And… we’re going to keep trying. So I truly hope my Republican colleagues will think of the many families out there who need this lifeline, and look at the great bipartisan work done on the appropriations bill, and I hope they will reconsider their return to all-or-nothing political tactics.”

“Because, while I know there are fundamental differences between the two parties, and I know compromise is never easy, we can’t afford to let those challenges get in the way of delivering for the families and communities we serve. And we don’t have to.”

Full Text of Senator Murray’s Speech:

“Thank you, Mr. President.

“I’d like to start by thanking my friend, the distinguished Senator from Maryland, as well as her counterpart Chairman Rogers in the House.

“They have shown great leadership in working across the aisle to accomplish this mammoth task on a tight timeline, and I really appreciate their efforts.

“I’m going to talk today about why it is so important that we pass this legislation and continue to build on the bipartisan steps taken so far.

“Last week I spoke at press conference on youth unemployment with a young man named James.

“Listening to James, it is clear he’s hardworking and ambitious. But he explained that he’s still living at home with his parents because despite a lot of searching, he hasn’t been able to find a job.

“What’s clear from James’ story, and from many others across the country, is that even though the economy has made progress, far too many Americans still aren’t feeling the benefits.

“Too many are working more hours and earning less, or wondering whether they can afford to send their kids to college, or worrying that they won’t be able to save enough to retire.

“These are the kinds of problems we need to be thinking about and solving.

“So I hope our work this session will be entirely focused on doing everything we can to create more jobs and more opportunity for all Americans—especially those who are struggling in what is still a very tough economy.

“There is a lot we need to get done. And if one lesson came out of the constant crises last year, it’s that in a divided government, the only way to get things done is through compromise and bipartisanship.

“The budget deal Chairman Ryan and I reached is a good example. It wasn’t the bill I would write on my own. It wasn’t the bill Chairman Ryan would write on his own either. But after hearing from families and communities in my home state of Washington, I knew we needed to do more to restore critical investments that are being lost as a result of sequestration, and we needed to break out of the constant crises that have caused so much gridlock and dysfunction over the last few years.

“So I worked with Chairman Ryan to reach a compromise. I’m pleased our agreement rolled back some of the automatic, across the board cuts to priorities like education, infrastructure and research, and that we did this in a balanced way, without relying on spending cuts alone.

“And importantly, in reaching a deal we were able to lay some groundwork so Chairman Mikulski and Chairman Rogers could move forward on the important work of funding the government. Families and communities across the country will be better off as a result of their leadership.

“This legislation invests in starting our children off strong, by expanding access to Early Head Start for infants and families. It also expands access to Pell grants to help more young adults afford higher education. And it supports other priorities like medical research, which help create jobs and spur innovation.

“In my home state of Washington I know all these investments, as well as others like funding for the Columbia River Crossing project, and for repairs and improvements at Joint Base Lewis McChord, will make a huge difference.

“I also want to talk today about the importance of investments in the Transportation-Housing division of the omnibus.

“Mr. President, our bill addresses critical challenges on everything from: homelessness, to affordable housing, to traffic congestion, to transportation safety.

“This bill represents a firm commitment to providing housing and supportive services to families in need. It increases funding for the Section 8 program, which provides housing for low-income families across the country.   If funding had remained at the sequester level, more than 100,000 families would be at risk of losing assistance and becoming homeless.  Under this bill, that won’t happen.

“I am especially proud that the bill includes $75 million for vouchers for the joint HUD-Veterans Affairs supportive housing program. As a result, an additional 10,000 homeless veterans and their families will have access to housing and supportive services. 

“Mr. President, our housing and transportation bill prioritizes job creation and economic growth by investing in transportation.

“It includes $600 million in TIGER funding, which supports projects that improve transportation safety and reduce traffic congestion. And that’s in addition to the $41 billion in much-needed funding to repair our nation’s roads and bridges.

“But the bill isn’t just about roads and bridges. Americans are increasingly relying on public transit. So I am especially pleased the bill provides more than $10.7 billion to support public transit systems.

“Mr. President, last year, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration forced the Federal Aviation Administration to enact a hiring freeze. This meant when employees like air traffic controllers left the agency, no one could be hired to replace them.

“Our bipartisan bill ensures the FAA has the resources it needs to end the hiring freeze, and hire and train new employees who help make air travel safe. 

“The bill fully funds the Essential Air Service and contract tower programs which so many small communities depend upon.

“And we also included reforms to improve the programs we fund—like, for example, important Section 8 reforms to reduce costs and create efficiencies. 

“Mr. President, in short, I’m pleased with what my colleagues and I in the Senate and the House have been able to accomplish together on housing and transportation investments in this bill.

“And I especially want to thank my colleague Senator Collins for all her great work throughout the process.

“I’m proud to be part of the tireless effort Chairwoman Mikulski has made to ensure we have a full appropriations act to consider, and not just another continuing resolution.

“Now, just like Chairman Ryan and I said when we finished our deal, I’m sure Chairwoman Mikulski and Chairman Rogers would each agree this package isn’t perfect. Each of them would probably have done certain things differently on their own.

“But because they were willing to compromise, they’re delivering far more for the American people than either could have if they refused to work together.

“Mr. President, if this legislation is passed into law—which I strongly believe it should be—we will have a choice to make. We could build on the bipartisan work done so far, and continue reaching agreement through compromise like people across the country do every day. Or we could see more of the all-or-nothing approach which caused so much damage last year.

“I was extremely disappointed that yesterday, my colleagues across the aisle rejected a good-faith offer to provide relief to workers and families who are still struggling to get back on their feet, even after Democrats, time and time again, offered compromises to try to get a deal.

“We tried hard to reach a fair agreement both sides could support. And, Mr. President, we’re going to keep trying.

“So I truly hope my Republican colleagues will think of the many families out there who need this lifeline, and look at the great bipartisan work done on the appropriations bill, and I hope they will reconsider their return to all-or-nothing political tactics.

“Because, while I know there are fundamental differences between the two parties, and I know compromise is never easy, we can’t afford to let those challenges get in the way of delivering for the families and communities we serve. And we don’t have to.

“The legislation Chairwoman Mikulski and Chairman Rogers just completed is proof that there’s a much better way to get things done.

“And if both sides are willing to continue making some tough choices, there’s much more we can do together to create jobs, strengthen the recovery, and build a foundation for stronger, broader growth in the future.

“I would like to thank Chairwoman Mikulski and Chairman Rogers again for their leadership.

“And I hope that we can build on their bipartisan step forward by choosing to work together, find opportunities for compromise, and deliver for the American people.

“Thank you.”