Durbin:Senator McConnell is Waiting For A Permission Slip From President Trump To Reopen The Government

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans to stop holding the government hostage over the President’s demands for a medieval border wall.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to have a vote on the House-passed appropriations bills – bills that passed the Republican-led Senate on the floor or in committee with strong bipartisan support last year.  Last week, Speaker Pelosi and the new Democratic majority in the House passed legislation that would reopen the federal government and allow negotiations to continue on border security. 

“I’m concerned that the Majority Leader, Senator McConnell, has made it clear that he’s waiting for a permission slip from President Trump to be the leader of the United States Senate.  We are a separate and proud branch of government.  We are given authority under this Constitution, which the President does not have.  We do not wait for a permission slip from him to exercise that constitutional authority,” Durbin said.  “The votes to pass these appropriations bills, I believe, are on the floor of the Senate today and that is what has led Senator McConnell to the conclusion that he won’t call the bill.”

Durbin continued, “When the Chief Executive of the United States government, a man who was elected to manage and lead our government, has voluntarily shut down important and critical functions of this government for a political purpose, he is not serving the American people as he was elected to serve.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate Floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate Floor is available here.

In his speech on the Senate floor, Durbin shared details of a call he had today with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb to discuss the impact the government shutdown is having on FDA employees and activities.  Due to the shutdown, more than 40 percent of FDA staff have been sent home—compromising the agency’s mission to protect our nation’s foods and drug supply, and leaving thousands of federal employees with uncertainty about when their next paycheck may arrive.  Further, Commissioner Gottlieb told Durbin that because of the government shutdown, FDA has had to suspend important U.S. food safety inspections—jeopardizing the safety of our nation’s food supply—as well as inspections at certain pharmaceutical facilities.  Commissioner Gottlieb also informed Durbin that, due to the shutdown, certain new drug applications may not be processed, potentially delaying treatments for patients in need.

This week, Durbin met with employees of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research – also known as the Peoria Ag Lab – and highlighted how the government shutdown is threatening critical research projects, including key antibiotic research at the Peoria Ag Lab. 

Durbin also met with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees at O’Hare Airport in Chicago to hear how the shutdown is affecting their lives.  More than 1,600 TSA employees at O’Hare Airport and more than 400 TSA employees at Midway Airport are currently working without pay.