Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor about H.R. 3210, the Pay Our Military Act, which passed the House tonight with a 423-0 vote. The bill provides for military pay, but not civilian federal employee pay, in the event of a government shutdown. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, Mr. Moran, for yielding.
“For 33 years, the Gentleman from Virginia who just spoke and I have sought equity and fairness for our federal employees, whether they be in uniform or in civilian clothes.
"I refer to this bill as selective responsibility. They know that the shutdown of government is irresponsible. And they know that the President nor the Senate are going to agree, as they have not, over and over and over again, to the proposal they have made. And so, because they know that, they don't want to be so irresponsible that the men and women who defend our country would be put at risk.
“And I might say I believe every one of us in this House is going to vote for this bill. But my friend from Virginia, Mr. Wolf, who is my good friend and with whom I have worked side by side in a bipartisan way effectively for many, many interests, he's right.
"Now let me say that on the 16th of September,  people were struck down working for the defense of this country. I understand you will say, oh, your bill covers them. I have attended two funerals, one on Wednesday, one today, spoken at both. With Mr. Wolf, I went to the Marine Barracks this past Sunday. The Commander in Chief, President Obama, spoke. Secretary Hagel, Secretary of the Department of Defense, spoke. Secretary Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, spoke. [Chief of Naval Operations], Admiral Greenert, spoke and NAVSEA Commander, which is located of course at the Navy Yard, Vice Admiral Hilarides spoke.
"They spoke about one Navy - uniformed, civilian, working as a team. But they spoke more broadly than that, in that all federal employees are one team. Joined together to make our government work as effectively as it can. We are the Board of Directors of that government. And I can't believe there's one of us, Mr. Speaker, that would serve on a Board of Directors and treat a large portion of our employees with such disrespect, with such lack of consideration, with such contempt at times, as we treat our civilian employees.
“This bill does not cover the F.B.I. It doesn't cover C.I.A. Now you will argue, oh, well, they're in the defense and they'll be critical employees, but only some. It doesn't cover the National Institute of Health. Try to make America a healthier nation - you want to defund Obamacare and you want to defund N.I.H.
“And you'll say, of course not, Mr. Hoyer, this isn't a shutdown of government. It's a continuing resolution. We know it has some poison pills in it, we know the Senate won't buy it, we know time is running out but we're going to do it anyway.
“This bill won't help the Food and Drug Administration. It won't help the Centers for Disease Control. It won't help [the Department of] Homeland Security, except in certain narrow instances. It won't affect Border Patrol, it won't affect the F.A.A., except in certain limited instances.
“What do you think the morale of the people who work for us, the Board of Directors, is at this point in time? I will tell you, it's on the floor. That's not good for our country.
“This is selective responsibility. Responsibility would be, let's fund government and then let's debate these issues. We have debated this issue, and by the way, we won the debate in the election, not on this Floor, in the election. But you refuse to accept the results of the election.
“We're all going to vote for this bill, but I will tell my friends on both sides of the aisle, it is time for us to give respect to our non-uniformed federal personnel. Because they are critical to the success of this country, to the success of our people. And we can argue about how large or how small our government is, but we should not argue about the quality of people that we want in the government.
“We should not argue about the fact we want their morale to be high because they feel respected, because they feel wanted and worthwhile, and that the missions that they perform, in whatever their role, is appreciated as important for the American people. Any corporate head that you talk of, and talk to, and talk about will tell you: you want to make sure your people understand that you believe in their worth. Because if you do not, you will not get what you want.
“We will all support this bill, but it is selective responsibility and will not excuse your rampant irresponsibility and I yield back the balance of my time."