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

Partial transcript of press briefing remarks by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on the government shutdown on Oct. 2, 2013:

…An hour ago, I was down at the World War II Memorial. An honor flight came in today from Illinois. It was a lot of fun meeting these World War II vets – all men – who had served our nation and risked their lives to keep America free. For some of them, it’s their last trip they’ll ever make and you can tell but they want to be here. And I’m glad they were.

What did they want to talk about? They wanted to talk about the government shutdown. Over and over again, they said to me, “When are you going to get this government up and running again?”

And I think about that. Men who risked their lives decades ago who can’t understand what’s going on today in Washington. Well, it is hard to explain.

It’s hard to explain how we’ve shut down the government in a manufactured political crisis. The impact – well, each day we come up with new examples – examples I’ve brought to the floor and others have too from the National Institutes of Health are heartbreaking. 200 people turned down for clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health because of the government shutdown, including 30 children most of them cancer victims.

So when I raised that issue and others did, Sen. [Ted] Cruz decided to put the NIH on his bucket list of agencies he was willing to save. Well, he shouldn’t stop there. He ought to ultimately open up the government because there are so many agencies critically important to our country that are closed down today for no earthly reason.

This morning, Director Clapper spoke about the intelligence agencies and here’s what he said before the [Senate] Judiciary Committee: “Each day goes by, the impact and jeopardy to the safety and security of this country will increase. Over 70% of our civilian employees of the intelligence agency have been furloughed.” Men and women charged with the responsibility of stopping the next 9/11 are sitting at home. Sitting at home!

What we have today is a proposal by Sen. [Harry] Reid to Speaker Boehner: Open the government. When you open the government, we’ll open negotiations. Sen. Murray, as chair of the [Senate] Budget Committee, is prepared to address the big issues facing this nation and facing this Congress. That is a fair, sensible, reasonable compromise.

I hope that as Speaker Boehner reflects on it, he will accept it. Let’s end this government shutdown today. Let’s move forward as a nation.


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