Saturday, September 30, 2023

The tragic wedding celebration that ended with the hall engulfed in fire

This week saw a fire at an Iraqi wedding that left at least 100 people dead  (by Friday, the death toll had risen to 102 and by Friday night, NYT's Alissa J. Rubin notes, it had climbed to 119) with at least 150 more injured.  Though the wedding couple was initially reported dead on Wednesday, they actually survived.  And now Revan, and Haneen are plagued with survivor's guilt.  Friday, they attended funerals for Haneen's brother and her mother.  (Some reports spell the bride's name Hannen.)  In addition, her father was injured and remains hospitalized (critical condition).  The groom's home has been attacked and his car windows broken -- some have blamed him and Haneen for the fire.

Haneen and Revan were initially feared dead following the blaze, which claimed the lives of 114 others.

Revan's father later confirmed the couple had survived the blaze, which tore through the large hall in the Christian town, which had survived ISIS occupation.

"It's true that we're sitting here in front of you alive. But inside we are dead. We are numb. We are dead inside," Revan told Sky News.

The horror inferno claimed the lives of 15 members of Revan's family, with the groom adding that his bride "can't speak" following the loss of 10 of her own relatives.

Hunar Rasheed (RUDAW) notes another family haunted by the fire:

The harrowing and tragic deaths of 22 people from one single family during the heartbreaking wedding inferno in Nineveh province's Hamdaniya town over the weekend has echoed across the country.

"This is my sister. This is my father. This is my mother. This is another sister of mine. This is my wife. She is missing," Fuad Silewa, a member of the family that lost 22 members in total, sighed while sobbing and holding their photographs. "I am grateful for God [on all occasions]."

He went on to introduce more family members who died of suffocation during the tragic inferno: "This is my brother's wife. Yesterday, I received [from health authorities] their dead and burned bodies. They have all died of suffocation. This sister had come back from abroad to change her atmosphere by visiting us. Thank you, God."

Over a hundred people lost their lives when a deadly fire engulfed a wedding hall in Hamdaniya after the roof’s flammable plastic ceiling caught fire when fireworks were ignited from the floor.

Naif Ramadhan (RUDAW) notes the dead includes a one-year-and-eight-month old girl named Marya Asaad whose father tried to carry her to safety but she died in his arms.  Her father states, "My daughter loved me more than anyone. She used to be very eager to see me when I returned from work. She would wait for me near the gate and give me my clothes although she was young."  Ayub Nasri (RUDAW) notes that 12-year-old Nazdin Khazwan also perished in the fire.  Nazdin was playing drums for the wedding.  After the roof caught fire and crashed in, Nazdin was not be found (there are over 30 corpses that have yet to be identified).  His father, Khazwan Sulaiman, states, "He told me that a fire had broken out. I looked at the stage and saw him burning. I asked him to leave [the hall]. He followed me to the exit. He told me ‘Come Daddy’ and I saw him running towards the kitchen door.  I saw him until he reached the kitchen door. Sulaiman was behind me and asked where Nazdin was. I told him that Nazdin had exited because he was in front of me and I saw him. We went out but did not find him."  Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) notes that an engaged couple, Steven and Maryam, had planned to marry next week at the same hall but cannot because Maryam perished in the fire.                                                                            

It should have been a beautiful event and a wonderful memory.  The building was fairly new (built in 2016).  Abeer Khan (AL ARABYIYA) explains that the hall lacked "sufficient emergency exits," as well as a sprinkler system and ample fire extinguishers.  Alissa J. Rubin (NEW YORK TIMES) reports on the study ordered by Iraq's prime minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani:

The draft report from the investigation, ordered by Mr. Sudani, found that in addition to lacking emergency exits and sprinklers, the building had been constructed illegally on agricultural land — a common practice in Iraq as those who no longer farm seek to make money off their fallow acreage.

The report also said the building was made of a substance described by investigators as Ecobond board, which itself is not illegal, but its use must be approved on a case-by-case basis because certain types are highly flammable. It is known locally as sandwich board because it consists of two layers of metal with a synthetic filling between them.

The report found negligence by the owner of the hall — who was detained by the authorities on Wednesday — and his two partners; by the local province’s tourist commission because it had fined the owner for failing to meet fire safety requirements, but did not close the hall; by the mayor of Qaraqosh because he knew about the failings, but, the report said, did not do anything about them; and by other administrative units aware that the hall was illegally built but failed to take any action.

The Civil Defense Force responsible for the area, however, was not named in the initial report. Although the force is responsible for building safety and fire fighting, many residents were critical of its response, saying the authorities were slow to arrive at the scene and ill prepared.

For many people in the area, the fire and the report were painful reminders of the combination of corruption, weak governance and lack of accountability in Iraq.

Rubin did a feature article (a profile) of the prime minister ahead of his visit to New York last week.  That may have been why she was given an advance look at the report which is supposed to be issued in a few more hours (it's Sunday in Iraq already).  

The following sites updated:


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Montana Court Blocks Enforcement of Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth

Montana Court Blocks Enforcement of Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth

Affiliate: ACLU of Montana

September 27, 2023 11:10 am 

Missoula, MT – A Montana state district court judge today blocked enforcement of Senate Bill 99, the discriminatory law that threatens the health and well-being of Montana transgender youth by denying them access to the only evidence-based care for gender dysphoria. In his order. Judge Jason Marks finds SB 99 “is unlikely to survive any level of constitutional review” and “barring access to gender-affirming care would negatively impact gender dysphoric minors’ mental and physical health.”

Missoula County District Court Judge Jason Marks issued the preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of SB99 following last week’s hearing in the challenge to Montana’s law brought by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Montana, and Perkins Coie on behalf of three families with transgender youth and two medical providers who work with transgender youth. The preliminary injunction granted today will allow youth to continue to access gender-affirming care as the lawsuit challenging the law proceeds through court.

The plaintiffs argue the law violates their rights under the Montana Constitution, including the right to privacy, equal protection and the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. SB 99 was one of several laws considered and passed by the 2023 Legislature targeting transgender Montanans.

“We are gratified the judge understood the danger of denying transgender Montana youth access to gender-affirming care as the challenge to this cruel and discriminatory law proceeds,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kell Olson. “Transgender youth in Montana will continue to thrive, and removing this looming threat to their well-being is an important step in allowing them to do so.”

“We are so thankful for this opportunity to protect trans youth, their families, and their medical providers from this baseless and dangerous law,” said Malita Picasso, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “While this fight is not over, every day that transgender Montanans are able to access this care is a critical and life-saving victory. We will never stop opposing this ban and all others like it until every transgender person has the care and support they need to thrive.”

“Today’s ruling permits our clients to breathe a sigh of relief,” said Akilah Deernose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Montana. “But this fight is far from over. We look forward to vindicating our clients’ constitutional rights and ensuring that this hateful law never takes effect.”

Federal district courts have blocked such bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In August 2023, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Alabama’s ban to take effect while a legal challenge against it proceeds. On September 1, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on lower court rulings blocking bans in Kentucky and Tennessee and will issue a ruling before September 30.

In June 2023, a federal court in Arkansas struck down that state’s ban on gender-affirming care in the first ruling on the merits of such a law, finding it violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Read today’s ruling here.

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ICYMI: Rep. Takano Calls on Speaker McCarthy for No Cuts, No Layoffs, and No Shutdown


ICYMI: Rep. Takano Calls on Speaker McCarthy for No Cuts, No Layoffs, and No Shutdown

Washington, D.C. – Last week, Rep. Mark Takano, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, joined Congressional Progressive Caucus colleagues to call on Speaker Kevin McCarthy to avoid a harmful government shutdown. 


Watch Rep. Takano’s full remarks here.

Rep. Takano’s transcribed remarks are below:

Thank you, Chair Emeritus, Mark Pocan. My name is Mark Takano. I am the Vice-Chair for Policy for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I also serve as the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. 

And like my Progressive Caucus colleagues, I am deeply concerned about the time wasted by House Republicans and their lack of reasonable action to fund the government and act on issues the American people care about. 

We are ten days away from a potential government shutdown. Just ten days. We have a bipartisan roadmap available right in front of us. President Biden and Speaker McCarthy reached an agreement on government funding levels through the Fiscal Responsibility Act, but House Republicans have reneged on this agreement and cannot agree on a path forward. 

The only appropriations bill they have managed to pass is an unserious, unreasonable Military Construction/VA funding bill. Funding our veterans should be bipartisan, and yet extremist Republicans used the MilCon/VA bill as a vehicle to initiate their plan to ban abortion nationally! Ban abortion – no exceptions. I remember they were talking about this in October of last year in the elections. “I’m for the exceptions, I’m for the exceptions.” Especially those members that represented close districts. But what do they do in this appropriations bill – the only one that passed? 

It is deplorable that the GOP would start holding back abortion access by blocking the VA from implementing its interim final rule on abortion. And what was the interim final rule? The Secretary promulgated in September of last year. He said the VA will offer abortion services to those women veterans whose life is in danger, or whose health is in danger, or who have been raped or are a victim of incest. This is fully consistent with the Hyde Amendment. This put women veterans at risk by making it harder for them to access life-saving procedures. Democrats in good conscience could not vote for the MILCON/VA package and endorse the removal of bodily autonomy for those who served our country. And that’s the irony! The very people who have worn the uniform to protect all our rights - they unanimously on their side have sought to take away their rights and their freedoms. 

Not only that, but Republicans went out of their way to further attack and marginalize the LGBTQ servicemembers, basically saying that the VA would have license to discriminate VA contractors by restricting access to safe and necessary evidence-based care for transgender veterans. 

Now House Republicans are attempting, unsuccessfully, to advance appropriations bills that include massive cuts to programs like SNAP and Medicaid that veterans rely on. And the CR they proposed would do the same. The House Republicans appropriations process is an affront to veterans and all Americans. 

Every day, Speaker McCarthy and his extremist Republican colleagues bring us closer and closer to a government shutdown. Shutting down the government is the worst thing the House Republicans can do for veterans and for our country. I know the Progressive Caucus will work with our Democratic colleagues to find common ground with Republicans and avert a shutdown, but Republicans cannot continue to govern in this way. Playing political games with veterans and the country must stop. Speaker McCarthy must bring a spending agreement based on fiscal responsibility and fairness, and without these extreme riders, to the floor so we can avoid a shutdown. Thank you.

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 September 27, 2023

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) reintroduced the Climate Solutions Act, a bold, progressive plan to cut carbon pollution and invest in America’s renewable energy industry. The Climate Solutions Act encourages strong renewable energy standards by requiring that 100 percent of electricity sold in the United States be generated from renewable sources by 2035. It will also aggressively target greenhouse gases by requiring the quantity of such emissions to be 52 percent lower than 2005 levels by 2035, and zero by 2050. It also creates a national energy efficiency standard.

Congressman Lieu, co-author of California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, ran for Congress to help tackle climate change on a national level. Congressman Lieu introduced versions of the Climate Solutions Act in the 114th, 115th, 116th and 117th Congresses.

“Climate Change is the greatest existential threat to humanity. We must act now and act fast to protect our planet and future generations from the impacts of climate change. Across the world, we’ve seen more and more extreme weather events, including the recent wildfire on Maui and the floods in Libya, which have resulted in thousands of deaths. At home in my congressional district, my constituents have seen wildfires, landslides, and other natural disasters that have destroyed homes and livelihoods. Unless we take extreme action now, it will only get worse. That’s why I’m pleased to reintroduce one of the boldest climate change bills in Congress, the Climate Solutions Act. My bill takes significant action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in green energy. The time to act on climate is now.”



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Senators Baldwin, Capito, Hassan Lead Bill to Provide First Responders Critical Training and Resources to Prevent Overdose Deaths


Senators Baldwin, Capito, Hassan Lead Bill to Provide First Responders Critical Training and Resources to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Legislation comes as more than 106,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced legislation to ensure that first responders and other essential community members have access to training on how to use life-saving overdose reversal drugs, like naloxone. The legislation, the Safe Response Act, invests in a critical grant program that allows states, local government entities, and Tribes to train and provide resources to first responders to respond to overdoses.

“When someone is experiencing a drug overdose or poisoning, every second makes a difference. I’m proud to have worked to expand access to lifesaving drugs like naloxone, but we must do more to ensure overdose reversal drugs can be effectively used in an emergency," said Senator Baldwin. “Our fire fighters, police officers, and paramedics are often the first responders to an overdose, and it’s our job to make sure they have the training they need to save lives.”

“With deaths from fentanyl on the rise in West Virginia and across the nation, it is essential we provide resources to ensure our first responders have the training necessary to save lives and keep themselves safe. I’m proud to join with a bipartisan group of colleagues to put forward a solution which would reauthorize this important program,” said Senator Capito.  

“Fire fighters, paramedics, police officers, and other first responders are at the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, and it’s important that they know how to administer lifesaving medication such as naloxone as soon as possible when someone is experiencing an overdose from fentanyl or other deadly drugs,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill will give more Granite State first responders the training needed to administer overdose reversal medication, and I will continue working to get them the resources that they need to save more lives.”

First responders are often the first on the scene of an overdose and help to provide lifesaving medications, such as naloxone, to reverse an overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, there were 106,699 drug overdose deaths in the United States, an increase of 14 percent from the year before. Of those, over 80,000 overdose deaths were due to opioids, including fentanyl.

The Safe Response Act would reauthorize a grant program included as part of the bipartisan SUPPORT Act, which was signed into law in 2018. Specifically, the bill would provide $57 million per year for fiscal years 2024 through 2028 for grants to states, local government entities, and Tribes. Grants may be used to: 

  • Ensure that first responders and members of key community sectors such as SUD treatment providers and emergency medical service agencies, have the knowledge and training to utilize overdose reversal devices or administer overdose reversal medications, such as naloxone;
  • Provide technical assistance and training about how first responders and other members of key community sectors can better protect themselves in the event of exposure to such drugs;
  • Establish processes, protocols, and mechanisms for referral to appropriate treatment, which may include an outreach coordinator or team to connect individuals receiving opioid overdose reversal drugs to follow-up services;
  • Educate first responders and members of key community sectors about the need to follow standard safe operating procedures in instances of exposure to fentanyl, carfentanil, and other dangerous licit and illicit drugs.

Senator Baldwin has worked to increase access to the opioid reversal drug naloxone and increase resources for local and Tribal communities to better combat the opioid and substance use disorder epidemic. Last year, she fought to ensure that both programs received critical funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bill. As Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Senator Baldwin also successfully included increased funding for opioid treatment and prevention programs in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2024 government funding legislation.

The bill has been endorsed by the National Council of Urban Indian Health, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Big Cities Health Coalition.

A one-pager on this legislation is available here. Full text of this legislation is available here.


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On Senate Floor, Senator Murray Details How Extreme House Republicans Are Pushing a Senseless Shutdown—and Urges Quick, Bipartisan Action to Avert One


On Senate Floor, Senator Murray Details How Extreme House Republicans Are Pushing a Senseless Shutdown—and Urges Quick, Bipartisan Action to Avert One

***WATCH: Senator Murray’s floor remarks***

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke on the Senate floor about the urgent need to avoid a devastating and utterly unnecessary government shutdown by passing the Senate’s bipartisan stopgap measure—and laid out how House Republicans’ extreme tactics and funding proposals have led us to this point, just days away from a shutdown that would hurt millions of public servants, servicemembers, and families—and our entire economy.

“The plain truth I want the American people to recognize is: it did not have to be this way. But a number of House Republicans have been working from day one of this Congress to hold our government hostage, push the most extreme, partisan agenda imaginable, and set us on a collision course for a government shutdown,” said Senator Murray.

During her remarks, Senator Murray noted that one need not take her word for it—extreme Republicans have been crystal clear that they are willing to threaten a shutdown:

Senator Murray laid out how Speaker McCarthy shook hands on a bipartisan spending deal with President Biden, Congress then passed that legislation, and while the Senate worked off the agreement as it wrote its bipartisan funding bills, the Speaker and House Republicans turned around and proceeded to propose one massive funding cut after the next.

“A deal is a deal. The Speaker and the President shook hands. We all voted on it. It was signed into law. We had an agreement so we could finally get to work writing our bipartisan spending bills—and in the Senate, that is exactly what we did,” said Senator Murray. “But before the ink was dry on the deal he shook hands on, Speaker McCarthy caved to demands from the far right to ignore the agreed-upon spending levels and took a hatchet to programs our families rely on.”

Senator Murray explained that:

  • In the Senate, she worked closely with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle and led the Appropriations Committee in writing and passing out of Committee all 12 appropriations bills for the first time in years—and with overwhelming bipartisan support. The full Senate voted resoundingly (91-7) to start work on the first three appropriations bills that passed out of Committee unanimously—and while a few holdouts have slowed things down, she is going to continue working to get these bills across the finish line.
  • This week, Senator Murray released a common sense, bipartisan Continuing Resolution in the Senate to keep the government funded and extend vital resources for disaster relief and continue supporting Ukraine at this pivotal moment in its defensive efforts. On Thursday, the Senate voted overwhelming to keep moving forward on the bill.
  • Meanwhile, House Republicans have written—and struggled to pass—extreme, partisan funding bills that would result in devastating funding cuts to programs that keep Americans safe and that families rely on each and every day.
  • House Republicans have been flirting with shutdown for months and spent much of this week trying to pass their extreme full-year appropriations bills—which would not avert a shutdown.
  • Earlier today, Speaker McCarthy released an extreme, dead-on-arrival Continuing Resolution that would decimate funding for domestic programs with an across-the-board 30% cut—immediately slashing funding for everything from NIH research and child care to heating assistance and law enforcement. The CR failed to pass the House of Representatives in a 198-232 vote this afternoon.
  • The only path forward is a common sense, bipartisan solution—like the stopgap funding measure the Senate is considering now.

On the floor, Senator Murray spoke about her around-the-clock work to pass the common sense, bipartisan bill she introduced to prevent a shutdown—and discussed Speaker McCarthy’s failed attempt to force devastating cuts with their latest CR today.

“The House isn’t even trying to put together a serious proposal,” said Senator Murray. “So far, Speaker McCarthy seems to be more focused on indulging a few members by writing bills with massive, cartoon-villain-level cuts instead of listening to the American people and avoiding a shutdown. And after wasting time on his partisan bills which will never become law, he tried to jam through a truly extreme CR that would have cut most agencies by 30 percent. As if a 30 percent shutdown isn’t still devastating to our families and economy!”

“As we saw just a while ago, that bill quickly went down in flames. Because it was not bipartisan—and it was not a serious effort to get our communities the funding they need. The lesson here should be obvious. Partisanship is not how we get through crisis—especially in divided government,” continued Senator Murray. “It’s not how we prevent shutdowns. We prevent shutdowns by rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of talking to each other and hammering out a bipartisan agreement to keep the lights on—and fortunately, we’ve actually done that in the Senate. We have a bipartisan agreement, and we are on our way to sending it to the House as soon as possible.

“It’s not too late for Speaker McCarthy to learn his lesson and do the right thing.”

Senator Murray’s full remarks, as delivered, are below:

“Thank you, Madam President. Americans across the country are watching us now as we near the brink of an entirely pointless, and absolutely devastating government shutdown and wondering: ‘How in the world did we get here?’

“It is a great question—and an infuriating one.

“So, I want to take a few minutes to walk through exactly how we did get here.

“Because the plain truth I want the American people to recognize is: it did not have to be this way.

“But, a number of House Republicans have been working from day one of this Congress to hold our government hostage, push the most extreme, partisan agenda imaginable, and set us on a collision course for a government shutdown.

“And you don’t have to take our word for it—just listen to what some of them have been saying: ‘If a shutdown occurs, then so be it.’ ‘We should not fear a government shutdown.’ It’s ‘not the worst thing that could happen.’ And this ‘may be what it takes.’

“And last week, of course, former President Trump—the same guy responsible for the longest shutdown in history—called for Republicans to shut down the government again.

“And unfortunately, it sure seems like these are the sorts of people Speaker McCarthy has been listening to—the most extreme, fringe voices in his party—when he should be listening to the overwhelming majority of people in our country, who do not want a shutdown.

“Because let’s be clear, most members of Congress—like most Americans—on both sides of the aisle here, in both chambers of Congress, do not want a government shutdown.

“They do want to see us working together to get our jobs done.

“And this is something I’ve heard from so many colleagues of our when I became Chair of the Appropriations Committee at the beginning of this year. ‘We need to get back to regular order.’ ‘No more omnibuses.’ ‘No more chaos, no more government shutdowns.’ I heard it from across both parties here in the Senate.

“And so, I have been working with the senior Senator from Maine, to deliver on just that to make our Appropriations process work better, to get our bills done, and to ensure all members do have a say in the process.  

“We’ve made some concrete progress.

“But over and over, extreme Republicans in the House have put up roadblocks and done everything they can to prevent Congress from getting even the most basic things done.

“The Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee and I held nearly fifty hearings this past spring to evaluate what resources our communities need in the year ahead.

“But then, instead of being able to get right to work and negotiate topline spending numbers, and writing those bills as we finished those hearings this spring…

“We had to press pause to contend with Extreme Republicans who were then holding the nation’s credit hostage and threatening a devastating default—if they did not get their way with unrealistic, draconian cuts to programs that this entire country relies on.

“It was a full-blown crisis. It was created by extreme House Republicans who ground Congress—and almost our economy—to a halt.

“Finally, after their dangerous brinksmanship caused so much unnecessary drama and delay, President Biden and Speaker McCarthy struck a deal on spending levels that rejected the deepest, most damaging cuts.

“Now it was not a deal I would have written myself—absolutely not.

“But a deal is a deal. The Speaker and the President shook hands. We all voted on it. It was signed into law.

“We had an agreement so we, here in the Seante, could finally get to work writing our bipartisan spending bills.

“And in the Senate, that is exactly what we did!

“The senior senator from Maine and I said: ‘Okay, let’s get things back on track, let’s get back to regular order, let’s write serious bills that can actually be signed into law.’

“And we agreed to work off that Biden-McCarthy deal in a bipartisan way, to avoid partisan poison pills, and give all of our colleagues input on our bills.

“We held televised, bipartisan mark-ups—with amendments, with debate.

“And, for the first time in five years, we passed all 12 bills out of the committee—and those bills passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.

“We then got a resounding 91 votes to start work on three appropriations bills that passed unanimously out of Committee here on the Senate floor. And as we know, a few holdouts slowed things down, but I want you to know we are going to keep working together to return to regular order so members can debate appropriations bills and offer amendments, and we can get them passed.

“Now, compare that to the House.

“Did they work to produce serious, bipartisan appropriations bills that can be signed into law?

“Nope. They wrote extreme partisan bills—extreme—that are not going anywhere.

“Did they keep out provisions they knew would be non-starters?

“Absolutely not. Their appropriations bills are a far-right wish list chock-full of extreme policies that would undermine our response to the climate crisis, embolden bigotry against the LGBTQ community, weaken common-sense gun safety regulations, and of course—of course—impose extreme abortion restrictions.

“I mean, the list of extreme, far-right policies that were slapped onto government spending bills in the House is astounding.

“If you want to get something done for your constituents, you need to get serious—and those bills are not serious.

“And did House Republicans, at least, stick to the bipartisan toplines that President Biden and Speaker McCarthy agreed to, and we all voted on?  

“Not even in the slightest!

“Before the ink was dry on the deal that he shook hands on, Speaker McCarthy caved to demands from the far right to ignore those agreed-upon spending levels and take a hatchet to programs that our families rely on.

“In those spending bills, House Republicans want to cut 80 percent—8-0, 80 percent—that’s $14.7 billion dollars from Title I funding our public schools rely on. It supports nearly 90% of the nation’s school districts.

“And that includes rescinding funding that Congress provided last year that schools have worked into their budgets and are using for this school year.

“They want to cut grants that help keep drinking water safe by more than half.

“They want to slash nearly $4 billion from lifesaving research at the NIH.

“In the middle of a child care crisis, they want to cut Head Start by $750 million dollars and eliminate funding to help states expand preschool programs.

“I’m just getting started—I could go on all day with the devastating cuts House Republicans have jammed into their partisan spending bills with utter disregard for that agreement that we all passed months ago, and more importantly, for how harmful those cuts would be for folks back home.

“Those cuts would hollow out federal programs and agencies to a point where basic government services that people expect to get done—whether it’s food safety inspectors or air traffic controllers—would almost certainly break down.

“I don’t say all of this, Madam President, to score political points.

“I am laying the facts out to make them plain to the American people who I am sure are as frustrated as I am about how pointless it would be to shut down and how ridiculous it is that we are even at this point today.

“So, here we are—days from a government shutdown—and it is clear the only way Congress can keep the lights on, and avoid a terrible shutdown, is a bipartisan bill to continue funding and keep things open short-term while we work on those full-year bills.

“And the House isn’t even trying to put together a serious proposal to do that!

“Here in the Senate, the senior senator from Maine and I have a simple, bipartisan bill that keeps the government funded so we can continue to work on our full-year appropriations bills. It includes absolutely essential, time-sensitive reauthorizations for the FAA and other agencies, and it extends urgently-needed funding for disaster relief and our allies in Ukraine.

“It is a truly reasonable, bipartisan bill, carefully negotiated.

“And we are working at this very moment with our colleagues to get this over to the House as soon as possible.

“But so far, Speaker McCarthy seems to be more focused on indulging a few members by writing bills with massive, cartoon-villain level cuts instead of listening to the American people and avoiding this shutdown.

“And after wasting all that time on his partisan bills which will never become law, he tried to jam through a truly extreme CR that would have cut most agencies by 30 percent. 30 percent! As if a 30 percent shutdown isn’t devastating to our families and economies! They need to get real!

“If it were to become law, that extreme proposal would have been devastating—for families and for our country.

“Whether it’s the Social Security Administration who is working to get seniors signed up for new benefits or the Department of Education, who is working to process Pell Grants and financial aid for students.

“Those agencies—and so many others—would have had to figure out, this Monday, how to implement a 30 percent across-the-board cut if their bill had passed. This Monday!

“Their bill would grind basic government services to a halt, it would create chaos, and almost certainly make the odds of a recession likely.

“As we saw just a while ago, that bill, fortunately, went down in the House in flames.

“Because it was not bipartisan.

“And it was not a serious effort to get our communities the funding they need.

“So the lesson here should be obvious.

“Partisanship is not how we get through crisis—any of them—especially in a divided government.

“It is not how we prevent shutdowns. We prevent shutdowns by rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of talking to each other, listening to each other, hammering out a bipartisan agreement to keep the lights on.

“And fortunately, that’s what we’ve actually done here in the Senate.

“We have a bipartisan agreement. We are on our way to sending it to the House as soon as possible.

“Good news—it’s not too late for Speaker McCarthy to learn his lesson and do the right thing.

“So, I hope instead of listening to the likes of former President Trump or the extreme right, and continuing to push a bill like he just did, that failed so badly, the Speaker needs to listen to all of the people who will be hurt by the shutdown—who will miss their paychecks, who will be cut off from health care, and child care, and support they rely on.

“And then, I hope he will commit to bringing up our common-sense CR bill to the floor as soon as possible.

“Madam President, let us get our jobs done. Let’s keep the government open.

“And then, instead of retreating back to partisan extremes, I urge Speaker McCarthy to do what so many of our members on both sides of the aisle here in the Senate have called for, and work together with our colleagues to find common ground and produce serious proposals that will make people’s lives better.

“Politics isn’t a game: sometimes you just choose to do the right thing because you know quite clearly what the right thing is to do.

“Shutting down government is not the right thing.

“Refusing to work in a bipartisan way—and forcing us into a showdown to show certain members of the House Republican Majority that you will fight Democrats—that’s the wrong thing.

“The American people don’t want to see you fight the other party. They want to see you work with your colleagues across the aisle.

“Madam President, that is what we’ve done in the Senate with our 12 bipartisan funding bills.

“And the sooner we take a shutdown off the table, the sooner we can get back to work to pass those 12 bills that fund everything from cancer research, to grants for our farmers, to top-notch medical care for our veterans, and so much more.

“So, Madam President, as I’ve said so many times: let’s help people and solve problems.

“Let’s work together—not against one another.”