In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) said President Obama and Democrats in the Senate majority have failed “to make a reasonable effort to resolve the real differences” that have led to the federal government shutdown.
“This government shutdown is disappointing to me. It’s disappointing to those who are affected by it, and I’m sure it’s disappointing to the American people,” Senator Alexander said. “What is especially disappointing to me is the unwillingness of the president and Senate Democrats to make a reasonable effort to resolve the real differences of opinion that exist here.”
The senator summarized “reasonable proposals” made by the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to fund the federal government. Senate Democrats have rejected the various proposals, and President Obama has been unwilling to negotiate, Alexander said, despite being willing to talk with Iranian leaders.
“He seems to be able to talk with the Iranian rulers, but not the congressional leaders,” Senator Alexander said. “Our goal is fairness to the middle class, fairness for the taxpayer. … This stubbornness in the face of reasonableness will not be good for our country, will not be good for either political party, it will not help us to achieve the kind of result on this and other issues that the Founders intended by creating a system of checks and balances in our democratic form of government.
Senator Alexander said each of the proposals by House Republicans has sought to fund the government while being fair to the American people and negotiating under the constitutional system of checks and balances the Founders created. The proposals have included:
- Being fair to the middle class by delaying the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance. The president has already delayed at least seven major provisions of the law, Alexander said, including the employer mandate requiring businesses to provide employees with insurance or pay a penalty.
- Being fair to taxpayers by repealing the tax on medical devices, which Alexander has said “is increasing the costs of life-saving medical devices for everyone and killing good jobs for Tennesseans.”
- Treating the American people the same as Congress is treated.
- Initiating conference negotiations between the House and Senate to discuss how to fund the government.
Click here to see a video of Senator Alexander's speech.