The full transcript of Congressman Mike Conaway's remarks on the House floor today. (Video forthcoming):
“Mr. Chairman, we are here during a – I wouldn’t call it historic because historical things isn’t something that simply happens every once in a while – a shutdown of our federal government, it’s because our colleagues on the other side of the building have simply taken the attitude it’s my way or the highway. That’s a wonderful way to look at life, but it rarely works in a life that you and I live in and that most of our colleagues and our constituents live in back home.
“If you look at the Constitution by which we govern this country, it itself was a series of compromises. Big states, little states, unicameral, bicameral. Across the board there were compromises within that document that have allowed us to try to prolong and preserve this wonderful experiment that we call the American dream and self-governance.
“And it’s my way or the highway that … or the leadership of the Senate has taken is calling that into question.
“The statements made over the last several days by the folks who support the leader in the Senate must make them feel really good, but those of us on the receiving end of those comments, it is insulting to be treated this way. It is insulting to have every opportunity we have put over there to try to reach a compromise on this issue, to have it simply dismissed out of hand. Not taken up on its merits but simply looked at and said, you know, never mind. It’s the lower body over there, we’ll treat these folks like children. Their ideas are unworthy of simple consideration and unworthy of debate. Let’s just table them and put them on the table with all the other hundreds of bills that this House has passed over the last two years and eight months to try to move this country into a better position and move it further along.
“JFK said, let us never negotiate out of fear. We agree with that. But he also said, let us not fear to negotiate.
“Why is Harry Reid fearing the negotiations? We’ve got our conferees ready to go. They have been named this morning. Good men and women all.
“And simple question is, Mr. Reid, where are your conferees? Why are you afraid of getting into a room with House Republicans and House Democrats if they’ll ever appoint their conferees and work this issue out? Why are you fearing that optic? You’re fearing it because you know the American people are behind House Republicans in this effort to rein this in.
“At its core is the Affordable Care Act. The core of this issue is the Affordable Care Act. It is without question, this country is on an unsustainable fiscal track. We cannot afford the promises we have already made to each other over the next 75 years. Our grandchildren are at risk for not being able to self-govern because of the spending plans we’ve got in place right now.
“The Affordable Care Act adds a new third entitlement to that mix, and it also is unsustainable. So why would we want to continue this process in the face of the threats that it already – that we already have with respect to the spending plans that are now in place for Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid. They will bankrupt this country soon.
“We’ve got hard choices to make with health care. There are an, there is infinite demand for health insurance, health care. Unquestionable. And there are finite resources. That requires a reconciliation.
“And it’s the core of this question of the Affordable Care Act is who does that? Should it be governments? Should it be 15 bureaucrats in a room that nobody knows who they are deciding what that should look like? Or should it be patients and caregivers making some of the most difficult decisions we will ever make in life to decide on health care issues?
“My money is on the folks in the fight. My money’s on the families and the caregivers and those processes make far better decisions in these very difficult reconciliation process than anything that could be done here in Washington, D.C. So, at its core that’s the fight. Who makes your health care decisions at the end of the day.
“And how can this country afford the promises we have already made which this president has said over and over he will not negotiate with respect to Medicare and Social Security. Where are his plans? Where are Harry Reid’s plans for those two entitlements? And now they have taken that same mantra with respect to the Affordable Care Act.
“They are refusing to negotiate anything about that. It’s unseemly, it’s un-American, and quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, my constituents are demanding that we fix this. That we stop this shutdown. It’s unnecessary.
“But they also demand that the Senate come to the middle, come to the table with their conferees and let’s begin the process of working that out. It is unseemly, as I said, for the Senate to continue to dismiss out of hand every attempt – and quite frankly, those of us on the House Republican side are getting criticized for having to look like we are negotiating with yourself, finding attempt time and time again to try to find some middle ground that the Senate could come to work with us. And it’s this my way or the highway attitude that the leadership in the Senate has taken is beneath the dignity of this body. And I yield back.”