News Releases

Senator Murray Warns that Republicans' Failure to Pass Funding Bills Will Delay Hanford Cleanup and the Fight Against Meth and Gangs

Dec 07 2006

Murray also Warns that Airline Safety, Highway Safety, and the Fight Against Terrorism Will be Hurt by Republican Obstruction

(Washington, D.C.) – In a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) stood up for Washington state communities who will be hurt if Republicans continue to block passage of the annual spending bills.



"The Republican's mismanagement will hurt priorities in my home state of Washington from the fight against drugs and gangs to the cleanup effort at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation," Murray said. "When Congress doesn't do its job here in the Capitol, it makes it harder for all Americans to do their jobs – whether it's teaching our children, providing healthcare, improving transportation, or making our communities safer."



Murray has secured critical funding for Washington state priorities in a series of Senate appropriations bills, but Republicans want to adjourn the Senate for the year without passing these important bills. The Senate session will end tomorrow. Unless Republicans change course, the Senate will adopt a continuing resolution until February 2007. That resolution will delay the increased funding that Murray has secured and would put Murray's funding at risk next year.



Murray noted that all of the bills have ready to move forward since July, but the Republican leadership is still refusing to let them move forward.



"Never in my fourteen years in the Senate have we started a new fiscal year with so little progress in the Senate in passing the Appropriations bills and funding these critical functions of government," Murray said.



Hanford Cleanup



In the Senate Energy and Water bill, which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murray secured critical funding for the Hanford cleanup, including $690 million for the Vit plant. If Republicans continue to refuse to pass a free-standing Energy and Water bill for Fiscal Year 2007, Murray's funding will be delayed, hurting progress on this and other projects at the site. It is not yet known how much Hanford would receive if Republicans pass a continuing resolution that would run until February 2007.



"Our government has an obligation to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Washington," Murray said. "As I speak, that community is working hard to clean up nuclear waste and protect the community and the environment. Here in the Senate, I've fought for the funding we need to keep the clean-up moving forward. But now Republicans are refusing to move the Energy and Water bill forward. As a result, funding for Hanford will be delayed and that means the cleanup will take longer and cost more money. The Republican leadership is going to have to explain to the people I represent in the Tri-Cities and throughout Washington state why Hanford funding is being delayed. Republicans will have to answer for their failure to act on these and other priorities."



Methamphetamine Initiative



Murray warned that Republicans' refusal to act will hurt Washington's anti-meth efforts.



"If you sit down with law enforcement officers in my home state, as I have, they will tell you that we are facing a methamphetamine epidemic," Murray said. "Meth is destroying families and communities, and law enforcement needs more help to deal with it. Over the past few years, I've worked to provide funding each year for the Washington State Meth Initiative. It's a coordinated, statewide effort that focuses on cleanup, treatment, prevention and law enforcement. It is also a model for other states. Again, this year in the Senate bill, I got a commitment to support my state's Meth Initiative. But now that funding will be delayed – and put in jeopardy – because Senate Republicans have refused to do their job and pass the Commerce, Justice State spending bill. Because Republican Senators are not doing their job, they're going to make it harder for police in my state to do their jobs, and that's just wrong."



Gang Task Force – Yakima



Murray also explained how anti-gang efforts in the Yakima Valley will be hurt by Republican inaction.



"The Republican's failure to act will also delay and put at risk support for an anti-gang program in the Yakima Valley," Murray said. "On October 16th, I was in Yakima at the police department for a meeting with two dozen local officials, law enforcement and prosecutors. They told me about the challenges they're facing, and the top issues on their list were meth and gangs. I heard their message, and I've fought for a commitment in the Senate to support a community-based gang task force. That funding is needed immediately. Now I have to go back to Yakima and tell those hard working leaders that the funding I got was delayed – and put at risk – because Republicans don’t want to do their jobs and pass the annual spending bills. The people in my state deserve better."



Finally, Senator Murray noted that if Republicans push for a continuing resolution for the entire Fiscal Year 2007, it will prevent the FAA from hiring the air traffic controllers and safety inspectors that are needed. It will also hurt efforts to reverse a recent increase in highway fatalities.



Senator Murray's full remarks follow:



Mr. President, families across the country will be hurt because this Republican Congress has not done its job. We've heard this session of Congress described as the "Do Nothing" Congress. And it's certainly earned that title, but there is one thing that people should understand.



When Congress doesn't do its job here in the Capitol, it makes it harder for all Americans to do their jobs – whether it's teaching our children, providing healthcare, improving transportation, or making our communities safer.



This may seem like a debate over the process in the Senate, but it affects you.

  • If you fly on an airplane and are concerned about your safety – it affects you.


  • If you drive on a highway and are concerned about traffic congestion – it affects you.


  • If you want our government to stop the flow of money to terrorist organizations – it affects you.


Today I want to share a few examples of how average families will be hurt because the Senate Republican leadership has not done its job.



And I want to point out how it will hurt priorities in my home state of Washington from the fight against drugs and gangs to the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The Republican's failure this year will make it harder for us to our jobs next year. And that is a terrible legacy for the Republican Leadership to leave our country.



An Annual Responsibility

Mr. President, every year, Congress must pass the annual spending bills that fund our government. We work hard on those bills. We craft them so that they meet the needs that our constituents tell us about on everything from healthcare to transportation to education. Sometimes it takes a while to finish those bills, but we get them done, and the country is able to move forward.



But this year has been different. We did our work on the Appropriations Committee, but then the Senate Republican Leadership blocked our progress. I serve on the Appropriations Committee and we did our job, on time, in a bipartisan manner. Back in July – under the leadership of Senators Cochran and Byrd, we completed work on all 11 appropriations bills and sent them to the Senate floor. And here's what's really impressive – every single Senator on the committee voted to report each and every bill.



But since then, the Senate Republican Leadership blocked our progress. They decided to only let 3 of those 11 bills move forward – Defense, Homeland Security, and Military Construction. Those bills cover extremely important functions of our government, but they are just three of 11. What about the needs of our communities? What about the needs of our schools, our colleges, and our universities? What about our support of health research? Or investing in our infrastructure? Or meeting the needs of our farmers and ranchers? Or the needs of law enforcement? These are critical needs, but the Senate Republican Leadership decided this past summer to put them on the back burner.



Never in my fourteen years in the Senate have we started a new fiscal year with so little progress in the Senate in passing the Appropriations bills and funding these critical functions of government. Nine weeks ago, as we entered the new fiscal year, I came here to the Floor to complain about the unfinished business of the Senate. I expressed my disappointment that we were recessing for the elections without at least moving these Appropriations bills to conference. I always thought the Senate Republican Leadership would eventually finish its work this session. But they made a different choice.



It is now December 7th. We have not seen one additional funding bill clear the Senate. We are now hearing talk that the Republican Leadership may formally adjourn the Senate by the end of this week – with most of the eleven Appropriations bills never sent to the President.



I think it's worth remembering what happened the last time there was a major shift in power back in November of 2002. I was serving at the time as Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. After the election, the Appropriations process was not yet complete, but Democrats still sought to fulfill our responsibility by moving bills on the Floor and sending them to conference. Unfortunately, Mr. President, we were blocked from completing our job. The Republican Leadership, that was due to come into the majority in January of 2003, prohibited us from moving forward with these bills. They decided that they wanted to complete the Appropriations process when they were in control.



This year, Democrats are taking a different approach. We should complete the appropriations process now because it's important to American families and communities. We are already more than two months into the new fiscal year. And the American people are paying a price for these delays. Democrats are willing to complete this process under Republican control because we believe the American people have waited long enough. Unfortunately, the Republican Leadership still hasn't gotten the message. American families are going to pay the price for this negligence.



Different from a Continuing Resolution

Some Senators have suggested that if we simply pass a continuing resolution for the entire fiscal year, everything is going to be fine. Some claim that there is no real difference between passing the bills we have worked so hard to put together and just putting our Government on autopilot for a full year. There is a difference.



This country is going to pay a price in airline safety. Under a full-year CR, we'll only be able to hire half the air traffic controllers we need. And we won't be able to hire the air traffic safety inspectors we need. We are going to pay a price in highway safety because we are not going to be able to reverse the recent increase in traffic fatalities.



We are going to pay a price in the fight against terrorism. We are not going to be able to fund the Treasury Department's efforts to stop terrorist financing.



We are going to pay a price in educating our kids, improving our communities, and training our workforce. Almost everywhere you look, we are going to pay a price if the Republican leadership fails to do its job.



Washington State Impact

The Republican's mismanagement will hurt priorities in my home state of Washington from the fight against drugs and gangs to the cleanup effort at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.



Meth

If you sit down with law enforcement officers in my home state – as I have – they will tell you that we are facing a methamphetamine epidemic. Meth is destroying families and communities, and law enforcement needs more help to deal with it. Over the past few years, I've worked to provide funding each year for the Washington State Meth Initiative. It's a coordinated, statewide effort that focuses on cleanup, treatment, prevention and law enforcement. It is also a model for other states.



Again, this year in the Senate bill, I got a commitment to support my state's Meth Initiative. But now that funding will be delayed – and put in jeopardy – because Senate Republicans have refused to do their job and pass the Commerce, Justice State spending bill. Because Republican Senators are not doing their job, they're going to make it harder for police in my state to do their jobs, and that's just wrong.



Fighting Gangs

The Republican's failure to act will also delay -- and put at risk -- support for an anti-gang program in the Yakima Valley. On October 16th, I was in Yakima at the police department for a meeting with two dozen local officials, law enforcement and prosecutors. They told me about the challenges they're facing, and the top issues on their list were meth and gangs. I heard their message, and I've fought for a commitment in the Senate to support a community-based gang task force. That funding is needed immediately. Now I have to go back to Yakima and tell those hard working leaders that the funding I got was delayed – and put at risk – because Republicans don’t want to do their jobs and pass the annual spending bills. The people in my state deserve better.



Hanford

Let me offer another example of how the Republicans' failure to do their job is hurting my state. Our government has an obligation to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Washington. As I speak, that community is working hard to clean up nuclear waste and protect the community and the environment.



Here in the Senate, I've fought for the funding we need to keep the clean-up moving forward. But now Republicans are refusing to move the Energy and Water bill forward. As a result, funding for Hanford will be delayed and that means the cleanup will take longer and cost more money. The Republican leadership is going to have to explain to the people I represent in the Tri-Cities and throughout Washington state why Hanford funding is being delayed. Republicans will have to answer for their failure to act on these and other priorities.



Conclusion

Mr. President, it didn’t have to be this way. Rather than spending the month of July and September debating unrelated bills for political reasons, we could have been debating these appropriations bills that are critically needed for the Nation's safety and security. We could have been fighting for the people we represent. We could have been meeting their basic needs, protecting their livelihoods, and ensuring their safety. But the Republican leadership said no, and now our families are paying a price. I think the Senate deserves better, but more importantly, the people we represent deserve better.