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Yarmuth Challenges GOP Budget Committee Colleagues to Condemn the President’s Call for a Government Shutdown

May 3, 2017

Washington, D.C.—Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, delivered opening remarks at today’s hearing with GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, where he challenged his Republican colleagues on the committee to condemn the President’s reckless calls for a government shutdown. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Madam Chairman.  And thank you, Mr. Dodaro, for being here today to give us your views on the country’s fiscal challenges and on the important work that GAO performs to ensure that the federal government is held accountable and continues to improve its performance.  We all agree that we should look for ways to make government agencies and programs more efficient and I look forward to hearing your views on these issues.
 
This hearing is titled, “Failures of Fiscal Management.” I certainly agree with the Chairman that we need to be doing all we can to root out improper payments and ineffective programs. In fact, I would argue that this should be a greater priority for Democrats because of the important role we believe government plays in the lives of the American people.
 
This is certainly a reasonable hearing to have, it’s a reasonable topic – but we are in a situation that is anything but reasonable. Yesterday, President Trump called for a shutdown of the federal government. The President of the United States stated that “our country needs a good shutdown.”  No, our country needs a responsible President – one who understands you don’t begin the 2018 budget negotiations by threatening the economic security of our nation.
 
This Administration is already off to a rocky start….their initial budget failed to include any information on revenues and well more than half of federal spending. The only detail provided called for severe cuts to discretionary investments that the American people need and deserve.  That was followed by a plan to enact deficit-busting tax cuts for the rich that the American people overwhelmingly oppose. And then there’s a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act that has failed three times and counting.
 
After a four month delay requested by the Trump Administration, which put important new programs on hold, postponed contracts, and impeded the work of our federal agencies, we are just now passing an FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill…..that’s for the fiscal year that started seven months ago. 
 
We can now move to the FY18 budget – which brings me back to President Trump and his comments yesterday. I come back to this because it’s so important to the credibility of every member of this Committee, as well as our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee.  Calling for a shut-down of the federal government is irresponsible and reckless. The last shutdown took billions of dollars out of the economy – and was entirely avoidable.
 
As Members of the House Budget Committee, it is our job to craft a Congressional budget for our nation. It is our responsibility to treat this process seriously, in a way that respects the gravity of the decisions made by this Committee, regardless of whether we agree or disagree on priorities or policy. We have a responsibility to protect the seriousness of the work we are charged with – and this must include condemning reckless calls for shutting down the federal government. On this, we need to speak as a unified voice. So I ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle – when are you going to say something? When are you going to push back against these statements by President Trump that threaten our economic and national security….that erode, even further, the American people’s confidence in our government?
 
Please find that courage. We can’t let these statements go unchecked any longer. As Members of the Budget Committee, we must be a stabilizing force in these debates.