|"In Texas we know that problem [health care] very well. We were one of the states, of course we're the state that has the highest percentage of people that don't have health care coverage at all. Would you believe that one out of four Texans, 25% of kids, and 25% of adults, have no health care coverage at all. 30% of women don't have health care coverage. 38% of Hispanics in Texas don't have health care coverage. And so the fact that the Affordable Care Act and the exchanges kicked off today is a great day for Texas and a great day for Americans.
But as we think about what's going on today, and today has been a very sad day in our country. Not only because this is the first time in 17 years that our U.S. government has shut down, but because of the way it happened. And I think that, you know, when people woke up today and they turned on the news or the radio, or picked up the newspaper, and they saw a government shutdown. People who usually live their lives, work hard every day, sometimes don't have a lot of time to pay attention to politics, saw those headlines, and thought, you know, what are these guys up in Washington, what are they doing, what are they up to? And that played into all of the stereotypes about how bad Congress is, about how bad politicians are.
But let's think about how this happened. During the summer, there's a junior senator from Texas, my home state, barnstormed the nation and our state, insisting that we defund what was derisively called Obamacare. That we get rid of all of the patient protections, and all of the great things that you just described. And he in fact said that he would do everything in his power, everything in his power to make sure that that law was defunded. Now, you and I both know that you pass laws, and then you do budgets, and you also raise the debt ceiling limit, that those are different things. That you don't hold one hostage to the other. But he insisted, and got many of the Tea Party members in the House of Representatives. In fact he had conference calls with them, had personal meetings with them. His folks were calling out the Speaker of the House, on Twitter and on Facebook, when the Speaker thought about being reasonable, passing a clean CR, so that we could go about the nation's business.
And it became clear that this was playing into a pattern that has developed with Republicans since 2010, since the increase in Tea Party Republican members. And this is the pattern: think about the Sequester. That came about in 2011 through the Budget Control Act. It mostly came about because there was a lot of pressure by Tea Party Republicans to cut in every, you know, every single corner of government. And so we got a bad law, the Sequester, which I think most people acknowledge now is bad. But if you'll remember, Congressman, when that happened, these Republicans, who for years, for years had been staking their careers on cutting government, all of a sudden, magically, were running away from the fact that they did it. They're acting like, 'wow, that was never our idea. It was the President who wanted sequester. It was the Democrats who insisted on Sequester'.
When in fact for years and years, and even more intensely since 2010, they have been demanding that we cut government. No matter what. But when it happened, they wouldn't claim it, they say that wasn't us. Well let's fast forward now two years, the same thing happens with the government shutdown. And so the government shuts down as they wanted. And what happens the next morning- folks come to the floor, they do interviews on television, they give quotes in the newspaper, saying, that wasn't us. We've been saying this the whole time, it wasn't us. It was the Democrats that did it. Look, if you're going to advocate for something, if you're going to push for something, then you need to own it, and you need to accept it.
Now I will say, if you look at a lot of the social media sites for Republicans, a lot of those Tea Party supporters are very honest about what they want. I had a chance to read through many of them yesterday. And they said, shut it down, shut the government down. Now, look, there may be a small percentage of Americans who feel that way, who are so frustrated with government, who are so frustrated with American society, that they do in fact want to shut America down. But the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats know that that's a horrendous thing. And so what we have today is some errant comments by folks, who slipped up politically, and said yes, we're happy about shutting this thing down.
But then you have another group of folks, who even though they voted in lockstep with Senator Cruz and the Tea Party Republicans, now try to cast aspersions on the folks who tried to stop it. The Democrats. You can't have it both ways. If you advocated for it for years, if this was your strategy, then when it happens, you take responsibility for the results.
Now there's also been a little bit of debate about how do you handle this situation. We know, as I said, that you don't hold the budget hostage to policy. In other words, you don't try to change policy through the budget. We understand that. So, just to crystalize that, I would ask my colleagues: if you think it's ok to not raise the debt ceiling limit, or approve a budget, because you disagree with public policy, a law that was passed three years ago, then I would ask you, should we not approve a budget as Democrats, or should we not raise the debt ceiling limit, because we believe that there should be a comprehensive immigration reform plan, with a path to citizenship?
Now bear in mind, these guys are saying that the Affordable Care Act is upside down on its numbers. In other words, there are probably about 53% of Americans who say, quite frankly, they don't like it. More and more are liking it. But they're right on those numbers. Well, 60% of Americans say they want comprehensive immigration reform. 90% of Americans said they wanted background checks. Should we hold out, and say we're not going to raise the debt ceiling limit unless we get universal background checks? Or we get comprehensive immigration reform?
Of course not. And Democrats have acted responsibly. There's a reason we haven't done that: because we respect democracy, and we respect the nation. And we're honest with the nation.
And so, I hope, that as cooler heads prevail, that we'll be able to resolve this. That we will be able to pass a clean CR, and that we will be able to do the people's business in a respectful and honest way."