Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Schumer Shouldn’t Have Sent Senators Home
October 6, 2023
Last weekend, America was brought to the brink of a government shutdown. This happened, in part, because President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer squeezed the calendar.
First, Biden delivered his budget to Congress over a month late. As I laid out last week, Schumer played political games with the Senate calendar as well. Congress must pass 12 appropriations bills by September 30th of each year. The Senate Committee on Appropriations passed these bills in June and July. At that point, Schumer could have called them to the Senate Floor. Instead, he allowed the Senate’s 12 appropriations bills to languish in limbo for nearly two months.
Then, in the days leading up to the shutdown, Biden announced plans to bring many essential federal agency services to a standstill. That would have made a shutdown unnecessarily painful for the American people, especially given Biden had the authority to keep those operations open. Despite their actions, both Biden and Schumer tried to lay the blame for a potential shutdown solely on House Republicans. This is wrong. I voted for a short-term bill to fund the government until November 17th and prevent Biden’s plans from moving forward. The new deadline of November 17th also provides an opportunity for both houses of Congress to have serious discussions on how to control our spending and secure the border.
We have a national debt of over $33 trillion. That’s over $251,000 per household. With the average price of a home in Nebraska around $210,000 our national debt is essentially a second mortgage for many families. We also have record numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the border. Since Biden took office, there have been over 7.6 million border encounters. That’s more border encounters than the entire twelve years Presidents Obama and Trump were in office. Earlier this year, Border Patrol saw more than 10,000 migrants crossing the border illegally each day – the highest single daily totals ever recorded. We must address both the debt problem and the border problem in the next funding bill.
To accomplish this, Congress must be in Washington. The work we do back in our states is important, but September’s shutdown faceoff proved there is no time to waste. Schumer recessed the Senate 5 of the 9 weeks leading up to the September deadline. Looking ahead to the November 17th deadline, Schumer’s Senate calendar has just 10 full working days. That’s unacceptable.
Most Americans work at least five days a week. Congress should be expected to do the same. That’s why I led a group of 18 Republican Senators to call on Schumer to keep the Senate in session Monday through Friday every week until all 12 fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills are passed. The House of Representatives is in session the full month of October. The Senate should do the same.
U.S. Senators need to remain in D.C. entirely focused on our duty to fund the government and secure the border. We need to debate, amend, and ultimately vote on the legislation to do both before the November 17th deadline. When I was Governor, I told my team that the most important thing was to pass a budget. While many issues were “want to have it” issues, passing a budget was a “gotta have it” issue. The same should be said about federal spending and securing our border. They’re “gotta have it” issues. To ensure that remains our priority, I’m working with over 20 Republican Senators to block any Senate business Schumer tries to bring up that isn’t related to government funding.
Families across the country are tightening their belts to stretch their budgets in these difficult economic times. Real grit requires showing up to work until the work gets done. Nebraskans get this, but too many in Washington don’t. Getting our spending under control and protecting our national security will require diligence and willpower. I am committed to working with my colleagues to deliver meaningful results. The people we serve deserve no less.
My team and I are here to serve you. Contact us anytime by phone at 202-224-4224 or on my website at www.ricketts.senate.gov/contact. I am honored to serve our great state and will continue to work to protect the Good Life from Washington overreach.