Weekly Democratic Address
January 26, 2018
Hello, I’m Adam Smith. I’m the Congressman who represents the 9th District of the state of Washington, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to give the Democratic message for this week.
I know a lot of people paid close attention to the government shutdown that happened last week and are wondering what it was all about. Why did it happen? And there’s really a very simple explanation. The Republicans who control the House, the Senate and the White House are refusing to govern on the critical issues that face our country. And what they were trying to do last week – and ultimately did do – was pass yet another short-term, stop-gap spending bill. That is not funding the government.
There are so many issues that are not being addressed by this Congress, and what Democrats were trying to do was basically to force the Republicans to do their job. They won the election. They control the House, they control the Senate, they control the White House. It’s time to govern, but they’re not doing it. They’re not passing a budget to begin with.
I’m the Ranking Member in the House Armed Services Committee, and I’ve been privileged to work with the men and women who serve in our military. And we could not be better served, they make us proud every day. But the Congress right now, the Republican-controlled Congress is not serving our military, because it’s not passing a defense budget. A short-term spending bill is not a budget. The leaders of the Pentagon do not know from one week to the next how much money they’re going to have to spend. That makes it impossible to plan and impossible to put us in a position to adequately meet the national security needs of this country.
And it’s not just the Defense Department, it’s the entire budget. Our infrastructure. We have a crumbling infrastructure in this country estimated to have a $600 billion backfill. But again, the Republicans will not pass a transportation budget.
In a short-term spending bill, what they’ve passed now four times since the end of the fiscal year in September, is not a budget. They’re not funding infrastructure, they’re not funding research, they’re not funding education. We are stumbling forward one month at a time, and it goes beyond the budget.
We have had horrible hurricanes last year hit Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They have not passed the disaster relief that these areas desperately need – again, simply kicking the can down the road.
And of course, DACA. And we’ve heard a lot about it. The young people who came into this country didn’t make the choice to come into this country. The only country they’ve ever really known is the United States of America. And our government, a couple years ago, gave them legal status in this country – about 800,000 young people.
And then six months ago, President Trump simply took it away. Now at the time, he said he hoped Congress would pass legislation to deal with this, but the Republican Congress again has refused to do it. And again, that’s part of what was trying to be forced last week – to force them to give us a vote. If a vote came up on DACA, on protection for these DREAMers – for these young people – it would pass overwhelmingly in the House and the Senate. But the Republicans refuse to even give us a vote.
The only thing that the Republicans have done since they took over Congress and the White House last year, is pass a massive tax cut for the wealthiest among us and for corporations. Two groups of people that have had more than enough benefits in the last couple of decades. That tax cut even comes at the expense, in some cases, of middle-class people.
What Democrats want is – we want an economy that builds from the middle out; that working people in the middle class can benefit from.
Now, you’ve seen all the signs that our economy is booming. Unfortunately, about 90 to 95 percent of that benefit is going to about 5 or 10 percent of the country.
We need to pass a budget to fix health care, to deal with disaster relief, to deal with all of these issues if we’re going to actually take care of the middle class and the working people of this country – and that is what the Republicans have refused to do.
Now, regrettably, we found out last week that even when Democrats said, “Look, we’re not going to vote for another short-term spending bill that continues to put us down this path of uncertainty, that doesn’t fund our priorities, that doesn’t pass the bills that we need to pass, that doesn’t govern our country the way it’s supposed to.”
Even when faced with that, the Republicans said, “We don’t care. We’re still not going to do it. We’re not going to pass a budget, we’re not going to pass disaster relief, we’re not going to fix DACA, we’re not going to fix infrastructure, we’re not going to fix our health care plan.”
So we hope that that will change. This latest stop-gap goes to February 8th, we’ll see what happens then.
But the problem we have in this country right now is the Republicans who control the House, the Senate and the White House, flat out refuse to govern. They refuse to fix our health care system, they refuse to pass a budget, they refuse to take care of disaster relief. It is time we hold them accountable.
And we can’t do it alone in Congress. So, I ask you, the American people to stand up and tell the Republicans to govern.
We don’t need more short-term spending bills, we need a budget and we need a Congress and a White House that actually governs and leads this country.