April 08, 2011

Manchin: Focus on Budget Crisis, Come Together to Put Fiscal House in Order

In Senate floor speech, Manchin urges Republicans and Democrats to put aside differences and again pledges to return salary to Treasury in case of shutdown

Washington, D.C. —With the clock ticking toward a possible federal government shutdown, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) delivered a speech tonight on the floor of the U.S. Senate urging his colleagues to focus on budget issues instead of social issues and come to consensus. If no compromise can be reached, the government will shut down at midnight.

Below are Senator Manchin’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

“When I was governor of West Virginia, we grappled with putting a budget together, but when the deadline arrived, people came together – Democrats and Republicans, business and labor, progressives and conservatives – and enacted a balanced budget every year.

“I’ve only been in the U.S. Senate for five months, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

“We are outspending our revenues by hundreds of billions every month.

“We are six months overdue in agreeing to a budget.

“This is a budget crisis.

“But instead of all of us coming together – Republicans and Democrats – to come up with a commonsense budget compromise, we face a shutdown of the government not over how much to cut, but over social issues. 

“On many of these social issues, I will the first to admit that I am more conservative than others in the Congress. I am pro-life, and proud of it.

“But this is a budget crisis, not a social policy crisis. 

“There will be a time and place to vote on these issues, but not when they jeopardize the paychecks of our brave men and women in uniform.

“That is wrong. Just wrong. 

“The American people expect more from all of us. And we need to put our politics aside, and do what is right for the nation.

“That’s one of the reasons that I – and so many of my colleagues here – will be giving up our pay until we do our jobs and agree to a budget.

“I’ll be sending my paychecks back to the U.S. Treasury to pay down our debt. Many others will be donating them to charity. We’ll be standing with the American people, our military men and women, who will pay a heavy price for their elected government’s failure to finish a budget.

“To my friends on the Republican side of the aisle, I want to say that there are many instances where we might agree on social issues and some where we might disagree. That’s a healthy part of our democracy, something to be encouraged. I assure you, there is a time and a place for those debates. There is a time and place for those votes.

“But today is not that time.

“Our deadline is here.

“My hope and prayer is that tonight we will do what’s right, come together as Americans, and agree to a commonsense budget that is the first step to putting our fiscal house back in order.

“Thank you M. President.”