Ilhan Omar

First Floor Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives

delivered 16 January 2018, Washington, D.C.

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I rise today to mark the 26th day of what is now the longest running government shutdown in history, a shutdown which is nothing more than a manufactured crisis designed to distract us from the instability and dysfunction that rules the Trump's [sic] White House.

Trump has orchestrated this shutdown because he's looking for someone else to blame for the ineffectiveness of his Administration. He wants to point to us here in Congress and claim that we are the reason he's failing to lead this country.

But that blame, Madam Speaker, belongs to Trump and Trump only. He singlehandedly forced seven agencies to stop their crucial work, work that impacts the health and safety of every American.

Soon, millions of people could start to go hungry as the government runs out of money to fund nutritional assistance through the SNAP program.1

Thousands could face eviction and become homeless as HUD2 becomes unable to deliver desperately needed housing assistance.

Federal courts could shut down.

Our aviation system could come to a halt as flights are grounded.

And the list, Madam Speaker, goes on and on.

But even before this shameful shutdown began, the Executive Branch agencies were already struggling to operate under Trump's leadership, or the lack thereof. As of today, there are more than 200 critical agencies [sic] positions for which Trump has failed to even put forward a nominee. That's more than 200 agencies, offices, and resources that are operating without defined leadership, full of [sic] staff, or resources.

Consequently, even once we are able to end this debilitating shutdown, our Federal Government will still be operating at less than full capacity so long as we have an ineffective, ego-driven President at the helm.

As a Member of Congress3, we [sic] took an oath to put the people of this country first, to protect their right[s], safety, and well-being. That's [why] in the House voted on day one of this Congress, and nearly every day since, to reopen this government.

The President took a similar oath, and it is time that he honor it because, Madam Speaker, the American people deserve better.

The 400,000 furloughed Federal employees deserve better, including the 6,000 workers in my district, alone, who are currently wondering how they are going to pay their rent at the first of the month and if they are able to afford simple necessities like childcare and food, deserve better.

If the President wants to have a real conversation about border security, we are ready to have it. We can talk about finding a solution to our broken immigration system and how to adopt policies -- policies that extend humanity and compassion to migrants and refugees.

Every day, families are fleeing violence and untold hardships in countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These people are running from situations that are so brutal, that most Americans, thankfully, can not comprehend; but as a refugee from Somalia, I do.

So I invite the President to engage in a real conversation with Congress on immigration.

If he wants, we can talk about the two million -- two million dollars the Guatemalan Government paid to -- to D.C. lobbyists and how the -- our government is cozying up to corrupt regimes in that country.

If he is interested, we could also talk about the U.S. funding and training for Honduras security forces that are involved in serious human rights violations and how these policies that we support are forcing people to flee from their homeland.

If he wants to talk, we are ready to talk, but we don't need [a] government shutdown to do it.

I join the similar calls made by my colleagues today, and I demand that the President end his temper tantrums and quest for a racist and cynical big wall, and I demand that he work with us to reopen the government before any more damage is done.

Enough is enough: The American people deserve better.

Thank you, Madam President -- Madam Speaker.

I yield back.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

1 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

2 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

3 "Members of Congress" was likely the intended vocalization

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