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Video of Senator Murray's Floor Speech



(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Tonight, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) spoke on the Senate floor to outline her concerns with the Republican budget resolution, which sets spending priorities for Fiscal Year 2006.



Since the president first released his budget request in February, Murray has used her position on the Senate Budget Committee to try to increase investments in Washington state priorities. She offered amendments to:

  • Fully fund the cost of veterans’ health care; and to


  • Restore cuts to 48 education programs either cut or eliminated in the president’s budget,


Both of her amendments were defeated on party-line votes in the Committee. Murray also offered her amendment to fund veterans’ health care on the floor of the U.S. Senate where it was again defeated on a largely party-line vote.



Murray also helped to obtain a “Sense of the Senate” resolution opposing arbitrary cuts and caps to Medicaid.



Murray’s full comments on the Budget Resolution follow:





“Mr. President, tonight, families in Washington state and across the country are concerned about the security of their jobs, their communities, access to affordable health care and a quality education. Unfortunately, rather than inspiring confidence, the budget we are voting on tonight leaves too many Americans questioning the future.



On issue after issue, this budget falls short of what our communities and our country need to move forward.



I’ve served on the Budget Committee for 12 years. I’ve served through recessions and economic expansion, during periods of record surplus and record deficit.



I know what responsible budgets look like because I’ve worked with chairmen of both parties to create them. Unfortunately, this Republican budget fails to create jobs, improve security and meet our country’s needs.



Power Grab



I am particularly concerned that this budget agreement was reached behind closed doors – with just one party in the room.



The Republicans control Congress, but that does not mean that half the country has lost its voice or that the majority has carte blanche to make decisions that will hurt families and communities across the country.



This is becoming an all too common tactic of the majority party these days.



We’ve seen it with a power grab that seeks to undermine the constitution and minority rights on judicial nominations.



While simultaneously moving toward breaking Senate rules, they’re ignoring the needs of the American people by shortchanging them with a pathetic budget that fails to protect our nation’s priorities or fulfill our commitment to our children, our seniors, or our veterans.



Medicaid



One powerful example of how this power grab will hurt the most vulnerable is the billions of dollars this budget cuts from Medicaid.



At a time when Washington state and others across the country are struggling to meet soaring health care costs, we should not be playing games with a program that helps ensure coverage to our most vulnerable residents. The guarantee of health insurance that Medicaid provides is a solemn commitment.



In March, a bipartisan majority of the Senate voted to strike the President’s dangerous cuts to Medicaid. And just yesterday the House of Representatives, too, said “no” to the cuts.



But today – ignoring the wishes of the majority of Americans, and a majority of both houses of Congress – here we are, voting on a budget that includes these dangerous and short-sighted cuts.



As more and more working families struggle to pay for health care without the benefit of insurance, Congress has a responsibility to protect safety nets like Medicaid, not tear them down.



Those cuts – and this budget – are both irresponsible and wrong.



This Budget is Bad for Washington State



And this budget offers too little help for families in Washington state. My state has struggled over the past few years to get back on its feet.



But this budget does not give Washington state families the support they deserve as they work to turn our economy around and build for the future.



Washington residents deserve a real federal commitment as they work to create jobs, provide health care, and improve security and transportation. But on the issues important to my state, this budget comes up short.



Deficits



Not only is this budget bad for Washington state, but it’s also bad for our country’s economic future – lining up massive deficits for years to come. While many in the Majority speak of the need for “fiscal discipline,” the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.



We are currently fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan that we are paying for entirely out of deficit spending.





We are paying for today’s war on the backs of our children and grandchildren, when we should be doing it responsibly as a part of the budget. And that's only one of the many major spending initiatives this budget chooses to ignore in favor of heaping the consequences on generations to come.



That is the most fiscally irresponsible action we could take.



Veterans



Mr. President, this budget also shortchanges our veterans. Washington state is home to 700,000 veterans. They rely on the services they were promised when they signed up. Washington state has also sent thousands of brave men and women to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan and now, a large group is returning home – including nearly 4,000 members of the National Guard.



That is why I tried twice in the budget process to increase funding for Veterans healthcare services. And twice, the Republicans said “no.” I even tried to add this funding to the Supplemental – because caring for our veterans are a cost of war. Again, the majority party turned their backs.



Mr. President, I am extremely disappointed that Republicans in the Senate have chosen to turn their backs on our veterans. By denying the crisis at the VA, they are ignoring our responsibility to fully provide for the men and women who risk their lives for our freedom.



Now, the Republicans say that we can take care of the needs of our veterans through the appropriations process. Well, I’m telling you, that with this budget before us today, there will not be enough money to take care of our veterans through appropriations alone. They will be competing with our military bases and other critical needs for precious few funds.



Our veterans, our military and our future recruits deserve better. We send these brave men and women overseas to fight for us. They should not have to fight for the healthcare they've earned when they return home.

Education



Next, let me turn to education. This budget fails to provide the funding that was promised in the No Child Left Behind Act. The Republican budget comes up short of what our local schools need to fulfill this promise to our children.



I am also concerned that this budget drastically cuts student loan programs and programs which provide critical early intervention and preparation for students to help them graduate from high school and succeed in college.



Transportation



Finally, Mr. President, I want to turn to transportation. Investing in transportation infrastructure means investing in and promoting jobs and economic growth.



It’s estimated that for every $1 billion we spend on our transportation infrastructure, we create over 47,000 good-paying family wage jobs. We know that investing in our transportation priorities today will help us improve our quality of life and provide for future economic growth.



If this Congress truly cared about investing in jobs we would be considering a budget that includes the funding necessary to invest in our roads, highways and bridges across the country. Unfortunately, once again, this budget does not provide for our national priorities or future economic growth.



Budget breaks promises, ignores needs



Mr. President this at the start of this second term, this Administration promised to restore bipartisanship and promised to reach across party lines to meet the challenges of governing.



As a member of this joint House Senate Conference Committee, I can tell my colleagues that we were not even invited to the table. We were told our presence was not necessary. This partisan, back-room dealing spells disaster for the entire budget process.



Adoption of this Budget Resolution is only the first step in a lengthy budget process.



It is far too early for this process to break down.



I am disappointed in the decision to ignore many of the bipartisan amendments adopted in the Senate and as a Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee I fear that this kind of partisan tone will make past budget battles seem mild.



Mr. President, we've heard a lot about fiscal responsibility throughout this budget process. Unfortunately, those lessons are ignored in this budget resolution.



We are ignoring our priorities and our responsibilities and increasing our deficits. I urge my colleagues to reject this budget agreement and to work on a budget framework that invests in our future and pays our debts from the past.”