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(Washington, D.C.)—Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the GOP Budget Conference Report. Murray specifically criticized Republicans for locking in sequestration and not working with Democrats to build on the bipartisan budget deal, not including her amendment on paid sick leave, and trying to turn back the clock when it comes to making health care more affordable and accessible. 

At the end of 2013, Senator Murray worked with Republicans to pass the two-year Bipartisan Budget Act, which prevented another government shutdown and restored investments in education, research, defense jobs and other Washington state priorities. Her budget deal expires at the end of this fiscal year.

Excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared are below:

“Instead of working with us to build on the bipartisan budget deal we struck last Congress—Republicans have introduced a budget that would lock in sequestration, hollow out defense and non-defense investments, and use gimmicks and games to paper over the problems.”

“Instead of putting jobs, wages, and economic security first by prioritizing policies like paid sick leave that shouldn’t be partisan issues, the Republican budget would cut taxes for the rich and leave working families behind.”

“And instead of building on the work we’ve done to make health care more affordable and accessible, the Republican budget would take us back to the bad old days when insurance companies called the shots, and when fewer Americans had access to the care they need.”

“Republicans went the opposite way with their budget this year. They were able to cut trillions of dollars on programs that support families and fight poverty, nearly a trillion dollars from Medicare and Medicaid, and more than five trillion dollars overall, but they refused to dedicate a single penny of that to roll back the automatic cuts to education, research, or defense investments.”

“…we should be working together to put in place policies that boost the economy and help working families. Policies like allowing workers to earn paid sick days. No worker should have to sacrifice a day’s pay, or their job altogether, just to take care of themselves or their sick child.”

“I hope my Republican colleagues will listen to the millions of people across the country who have more affordable, quality health care, and to the vast majority of our constituents who want us to work together to solve problems—not rehash old fights. And that they’ll finally drop the political games and work with us to move our health care system forward, not backward, for the communities we serve.”

Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared are below:

“M. President—a budget is far more than just a series of numbers on a page. A budget is a statement of values, of priorities-of the kind of nation we are—and the kind of nation we want to be. For many of us, these values and priorities are clear.

We believe the budget should help us move toward an economy that is built from the middle out, not the top down, and a government that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few. But M. President, the Republican budget we are debating today would move us in the opposite direction.

Instead of working with us to build on the bipartisan budget deal we struck last Congress—Republicans have introduced a budget that would lock in sequestration, hollow out defense and non-defense investments, and use gimmicks and games to paper over the problems.

Instead of putting jobs, wages, and economic security first by prioritizing policies like paid sick leave that shouldn’t be partisan issues, the Republican budget would cut taxes for the rich and leave working families behind.

And instead of building on the work we’ve done to make health care more affordable and accessible, the Republican budget would take us back to the bad old days when insurance companies called the shots, and when fewer Americans had access to the care they need.

M. President, I want to take a few minutes today to talk about each of these issues—and to urge my Republican friends to take a different approach, put politics aside, come back to the table, and work with us on a responsible budget that puts the middle class first and will actually work for the families and communities we represent.

M. President, the first issue I want to talk about is the automatic cuts from sequestration and the failure of this budget to address an issue Democrats and Republicans agree needs to be solved.

I am proud that coming out of the terrible government shutdown at the end of 2013, we were finally able to break through the gridlock and dysfunction to reach a bipartisan budget deal that prevented another government shutdown, restored investments in education, research, and defense jobs, and laid down a foundation for continued bipartisan work.

That deal wasn’t the budget I would have written on my own, and it wasn’t the one Republicans would have written on their own, but it ended the lurching from crisis to crisis, helped workers and the economy, and made it clear that there is bipartisan support for rolling back sequestration in a balanced way.

Our bipartisan deal was a strong step in the right direction—and I was hopeful that we could work together to build on it. Because we know there is bipartisan support to replace sequestration in a balanced and fair way. Not only did we prove that with our bipartisan budget deal—but Democrats and Republicans across the country have continued to come out against the senseless cuts to defense and non-defense investments.

But M. President—Republicans went the opposite way with their budget this year. They were able to cut trillions of dollars on programs that support families and fight poverty, nearly a trillion dollars from Medicare and Medicaid, and more than five trillion dollars overall, but they refused to dedicate a single penny of that to roll back the automatic cuts to education, research, or defense investments.

To put that in perspective—we were able to roll back sequestration for two years in the Bipartisan Budget Act with $85 billion in savings—but the Republican budget won’t fix the problem even for this coming year with more than fifty times that amount of savings.

M. President, instead of using just a tiny fraction of the enormous cuts this budget has in it to pay for investments that both Republicans and Democrats agree must be made. This budget uses a gimmick by increasing OCO funding to appear to patch over the problem on the defense side, without raising the cap on defense funding, and doing nothing at all for non-defense investments like education, research, jobs, or infrastructure.

M. President, we know the automatic cuts are terrible policy—and we know the President has said he would veto spending bills at sequester levels. I also know there are Republicans who have seen the impact of sequestration in their states the way I have seen in my home state of Washington. And I know there are Republicans who look at this budget and wonder why it couldn’t use some of the trillions of dollars in cuts to reinvest in American innovation or in our defense investments.

So I am hopeful that, instead of continuing to kick the can down the road or relying on gimmicks that don’t actually solve this problem—Republicans will come back to the table and work with us to build on our bipartisan budget deal in a balanced and responsible way, allow the Appropriations Committees to actually do their work, and not wait for another crisis before they push the Tea Party aside and work with us to get this done.

Because M. President—instead of rehashing old debates and lurching toward another completely avoidable crisis—we should be working together to put in place policies that boost the economy and help working families.

Policies like allowing workers to earn paid sick days. No worker should have to sacrifice a day’s pay, or their job altogether, just to take care of themselves or their sick child.

But today, 43 million Americans don’t have access to paid sick days. Making sure more workers have this basic worker protection will give more families some much-needed economic stability. And, it’s pro-business. Access to paid sick days boosts productivity and reduces turnover – two huge benefits for employers, and businesses that want to help their workers stay healthy should have a level playing field, so they aren’t at a disadvantage when they do the right thing.

A strong, bipartisan majority of Senators affirmed their support for allowing workers to earn paid sick days during the budget amendment process. And I was hopeful that we could build on this momentum—and keep working together to increase economic security for millions of workers and families.

So M. President, that is why I was very disappointed that the conference report does not reflect that provision. Instead of keeping our bipartisan amendment and providing paid sick days to help workers and families —this conference report instead allows for tax credits for employers that would not guarantee access to paid leave.

M. President, this is a step in the wrong direction, but it doesn’t have to be the last step Congress takes.

So I urge my colleagues to work with me to pass the Healthy Families Act – the legislation that would move this debate beyond budget amendments and make paid sick days a reality for millions of Americans. Because allowing workers to earn paid sick days is one way we can ensure our workplaces are working for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

M. President, I also want to talk about one more way this budget would be devastating for families across the country. The Affordable Care Act was a critical step forward in our effort to build a health care system that puts patients first and allows every family to get the affordable, high quality health care they need.

But the work didn’t end when this law passed—far from it. Families across the country are expecting us to keep working to build on this progress and continue making health care more affordable, more accessible, and higher quality. And that’s exactly what Democrats are focused on. But unfortunately, M. President, this Republican budget would do the opposite.

It would roll back all the progress we’ve made, and take us back to the bad old days when insurance companies called all the shots, when being a woman was a pre-existing condition, when far fewer families could afford to get the health care they need.

In fact, this Republican approach could even mean an average tax hike of $3,200 a year on working families who would have to pay more for their care. M. President—families are tired of Republicans playing games with their health care.

So I hope my Republican colleagues will listen to the millions of people across the country who have more affordable, quality health care, and to the vast majority of our constituents who want us to work together to solve problems—not rehash old fights. And that they’ll finally drop the political games and work with us to move our health care system forward, not backward, for the communities we serve.

M. President—Republicans control Congress and it’s their job to write and pass their budget—but our constituents sent us here to work together—not simply argue with each other.

People across the country are expecting us to break through the gridlock once again, like we were able to do last Congress, and deliver results for the families and communities we represent. So I urge my colleagues to oppose this budget that would be devastating for middle class families, seniors, investments in our future, and the economy.

And I am hopeful that Republicans decide to come back to the table and work with us on policies that grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down, and that move us toward a government that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

Thank you M. President, I yield the floor.”