Transcript: Press briefing remarks by Sen. Chuck Schumer on the government shutdown – Oct. 2, 2013

Partial transcript of press briefing remarks by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the government shutdown on Oct. 2, 2013:

…Now, the Republicans have this exactly backwards. They say, “Let’s talk and then maybe we’ll open up the government.” They ought to say, “We’ll open up the government and then we can talk.” They have it backwards.

And Sen. Reid’s letter offers just what should be done. The letter says, “The Republicans have this upside down but we’re prepared to turn it right side up.”

If Republicans would simply switch all the lights back on, allow hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees to go back to work, allow parents to place their kids in Head Start, allow cancer research to continue – these are the things that should be done.

And, as Sen. Durbin mentioned, the average person may say, “This isn’t affecting me.” When 70% of our intelligence employees are not working, everyone’s security is put at risk – everyone’s security.

And so we are asking the Republicans to open the government and all eyes are on Speaker Boehner. The whole country knows that he is the one person who has the ability to re-open the government. Speaker Boehner is the one person who can end the Tea Party shutdown.

And we’re starting to call it a Tea Party shutdown because that’s exactly what this is. It’s the Tea Party in the House that has brought this government to its knees, holding Americans, their livelihoods, their economy, and yes their security at stake.

And it’s not really a surprise. If you go back and look, there were a number of the Republican congressmen who are leaders of the charge, who promised when they ran in 2010 that they would shut down the government. They didn’t tie it to Obamacare. They just said, “If I get elected, I promise we’ll shut down the government.” And then there are these Tea Party minions chanting in the background if you look at these tapes saying, “Shut it down. Shut it down.”

Now, Speaker Boehner is an accomplice in the Tea Party shutdown and everyone knows it.

So he’s trying desperately to wiggle out of the hot seat by one-off bills and making half-hearted efforts to re-open pieces of the government. Speaker Boehner’s in this position because sadly he’s become a puppet with Ted Cruz pulling the strings.

When Sen. Cruz told Speaker Boehner to take up a crusade to de-fund Obamacare, the Speaker did it. When Sen. Cruz told Speaker Boehner to delay Obamacare for a year, the Speaker did it. And when the Senator told the House to pass piece meal bills in a cynical attempt to pit important programs against each other, the Speaker’s now trying to do that! Sen. Cruz has drive Speaker Boehner to pit kids who should be enrolled in Head Start against kids who should be enrolled in cancer trials. He’s driven the Speaker to pit families who want to visit the Statute of Liberty against families who own a small business and need help from the SBA. He’s pit Americans against one another. He doesn’t mind but Speaker Boehner should.

So we’re asking Speaker Boehner to rise to the occasion.

Today or recently, the National Review said that more than 100 House Republicans are ready to vote for a bill to re-open the entire government if he puts it on the floor. 100! Speaker Boehner probably has a majority on his side. Why can’t he show the strength to resist the Tea Party minions who he knows is wrong and open up the government?

So we ask Speaker Boehner to seriously consider Leader Reid’s letter. Open the government, we will sit down and talk. Open the government and we will have a budget conference. You’ve rejected it 18 times here in the Senate but maybe the 19th will be the charm…


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