Thursday January 10th, 2019

Cortez Masto Calls on President Trump to End Shutdown

Shutdown Floor Speech

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today called on President Trump to reopen shuttered government agencies and reinstate 800,000 furloughed federal workers, over 3,000 of which are Nevadans wondering when they’ll receive their next paycheck. In a speech on the Senate floor, the senator also highlighted the impact of the Trump shutdown on federal workers and families in Nevada.

Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery. Senator Cortez Masto’s remarks are available in both AUDIO AND VIDEO FORMAT. You may download video of the speech HERE and audio HERE.

Tomorrow, many federal workers in Nevada and across the country will miss their first paycheck of this shutdown. Our President’s govern-by-chaos approach has pulled the rug from under hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors across the country who are currently furloughed or being forced to work without pay, including over 3,000 in my home state. 

It’s outrageous. I’ve heard from many federal workers in Nevada, and they didn’t “sign up” to live in constant fear that their paychecks may be withheld for political gain.

They didn’t “sign up” to wonder if they will be able to pay their rent on time, cover childcare costs for their young children or put food on the table for their families.

And they certainly didn’t “sign up” to be used as pawns in this President’s political game.

They signed up to serve the American people, and they deserve the certainty of a functioning government and a steady paycheck.

Instead, hardworking Nevadans are writing and calling me to say they are worried about paying the bills, supporting their children and keeping up with their mortgage payments.

One Nevadan, who is currently working without pay, told me that he and his colleagues are struggling to pay for the gas to drive to their unpaid jobs.

Another Nevada mother told me that her son, newly enlisted in the United States Coast Guard, is now facing eviction just one month after reporting for duty.

A Las Vegas government contractor working to help the Department of Justice reduce its immigration court case backlog told me how discouraged he and his colleagues are that this shutdown is hurting the very people trying to help fix our immigration system.

Nevada’s veterans, park rangers and TSA agents have all contacted my office asking for an end to this senseless shutdown so they can continue to provide for themselves and their families.  

This is one of the major impacts on Nevada, but it’s not the only major disruption we’re seeing.

At our national parks and monuments overflowing trash is threatening wildlife and public safety because the park rangers and maintenance staff are furloughed.

In Nevada’s tribal communities, lapses in funding threaten to close the doors of health clinics, food pantries and child care centers.

The Small Business Administration has stopped processing loans that help Nevada’s small businesses and job creators thrive.

Over 7,850 Nevada seniors enrolled in nutritional food programs and 437,137 Nevadans receiving SNAP benefits are at risk of losing access to the food assistance that keeps them and their families healthy.

Real people, families and communities are hurting. These are people who do an honest day’s work and expect a steady paycheck and a government led by a President who cares about their needs and their families’ safety.

The solution is simple. Re-open the government. Stop holding federal workers hostage for political gain. They’re not leverage. These are hardworking people who are committed to working every day to make sure our services run, we are protected, and they stand guard. And they are not getting paid.

I would ask every one of us, as we go about our day, to thank them.

They are going to work, and they aren’t getting paid. For those who are furloughed and staying home, they’re still struggling. That’s why I support my colleagues’ legislation to provide the back pay needed to protect these families and ensure that their credit isn’t hurt because of a government shutdown that they had no control over.

Don’t forget that there are thousands of workers who will never be paid because they’re contract workers. We should be doing everything to ensure that they are getting the support that they need.

I came to Congress as a United States Senator. I believe in Article I of the Constitution. I believe that we are coequal branch of government. We should not be abdicating to the Executive Branch. We should be doing our job.

We know we can pass legislation that opens up this government. We’ve done it in the last Congress.

Let’s do our job. Let’s show the rest of the country that this branch of government can govern and protect everyone.

The answer is simple. If we passed these bills together and sent it over to the president, then it becomes his decision. If he decides to veto it, we should override his veto. That’s the process. That’s the process that our founders and framers set up so that no one branch of government has control.

It’s time for us to work together. Let’s open this government. Let’s show these federal workers they aren’t political pawns. Let’s show them the respect and dignity they deserve.


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