Mikulski, Senate Democrats Call on House Republicans to Reopen Federal Government, Pay our Bills on Time and Negotiate an End to Tea Party Shutdown

‘We want to reopen government. We want to make sure that America pays its bills. And we’re ready to negotiate as we’ve been doing in the past,’ Senator says

October 9, 2013

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today was joined by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) along with Senators Ben Cardin (also D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building to call on House Republicans to end the Tea Party shutdown, reopen the federal government, pay America's bills on time, and negotiate a solution to funding the government.   

"We want to reopen government. We want to make sure that America pays its bills. And we're ready to negotiate as we've been doing in the past," Senator Mikulski said. "For those of us in Maryland, we want to reopen the government so that the 130,000 federal employees who live and work in Maryland can go back to work to do their jobs. We want to reopen government because we are the home to 20 major federal agencies headquartered in Maryland, serving not only Maryland but serving the nation and the world. We are the home to the headquarters for Social Security. We are the home to the headquarters for Medicare. We're the home for the headquarters for NSA. We're home to the Food and Drug Administration. Together with Virginia, we have Wallops Island Flight Facility. In Western Maryland, we have a federal prison. We want to reopen government so it serves the nation."

Senator Mikulski's remarks on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, as delivered, follow:  

"Good morning everybody. Senate Democrats want to reopen government. We want to make sure that America pays its bills. And we're ready to negotiate as we've been doing in the past. For those of us in Maryland, we want to reopen the government so that the 130,000 federal employees who live and work in Maryland can go back to work to do their jobs.  

"We want to reopen government so that we reopen small business. We're worried about all of the small businesses throughout the state, especially those near our federal facilities that are now stressed and stretched because they don't have customers.  

"We want to reopen government because we are the home to 20 major federal agencies headquartered in Maryland, serving not only Maryland but serving the nation and the world. We are the home to the headquarters for Social Security. We are the home to the headquarters for Medicare. We're the home for the headquarters for NSA. We're the headquarters for the Food and Drug Administration. Together with Virginia, we have Wallops Island Flight Facility. In Western Maryland, we have a federal prison. We want to reopen government so it serves the nation. This isn't just about federal employees. This is also about local business. And it's also impacting the world.  

"Let me just talk about two agencies in Maryland. Let's talk about the FDA. It's headquartered in Maryland in a community called White Oak. More than 8,500 employees work there. It is a comeback neighborhood because of the presence of FDA, which works hand-in-hand with the NIH to bring drugs, biotech products, and medical devices to the market for patients in need. But it also stands sentry on counterfeit drugs. This is how it's serving the nation and serving the world.  

"The FDA has furloughed 45 percent of its employees because of the shutdown. That means we don't have people on the job monitoring counterfeit drug imports coming from China. Forty percent of all the drugs sold in the United States are manufactured overseas. Right now we've had to cancel inspections in China. We've had to cancel inspections in India. Why is that so important? Just a few years ago, faulty products and blood thinners coming in from China sickened 800 people, killing 81. Drug inspectors want to be on the job ensuring the safety of the supply chain so that when you take a drug, you know that drug is safe and you won't die. Senate Democrats want to open up FDA so it can continue serving the nation and serving the world.  

"And then over there in Woodlawn is the Social Security Administration. Though it's headquartered in Maryland, they are serving the nation. At the Social Security Administration, 10,000 employees have been furloughed nationwide. Furloughs mean the people who process disability checks, process eligibility for Social Security, and go after waste and fraud aren't on the job.  

"And Social Security is not only in Woodlawn, Maryland, it's in every community across the United States where there's a Social Security field office. We are saying -- open up the Social Security Administration. We want to keep the lights burning so that the people who have earned benefits can apply and get the right answers to their questions. Open up Social Security so employees who go after fraud in the Social Security program are standing sentry to make sure only those who are qualified get it. That is what the Social Security Administration does.  

"And right down the street from the Social Security Administration is the Baltimore FBI field office. I am so proud of them for what they do every day to keep us safe. But I was particularly proud of them when they were part of a major raid in which they joined with the U.S. Marshals Service and rescued 105 sexually exploited kids across the U.S. in a three day effort in which the Baltimore field office took part.  

"Well guess what. Those FBI agents are working today, but they're being paid in I.O.U.'s. And the budget at FBI is so tight that agents' gas use is limited to 200 miles per week. They can't buy their own gas to fill the tanks of their government cars, and they can't use their personal vehicles when on investigations. When they run out of gas, they run out of the ability to interview witnesses in person.  

"Let's get gas in their tank, let's get gas back in our government, let's get the gas out of the Senate, and let's get America rolling.  We want to reopen government and get America going."