With the clock ticking until the federal budget expires at midnight on September 30, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is urging Republicans to take steps to avoid a costly, wasteful, and avoidable government shutdown.
Earlier this year, after Republicans threatened the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which would have caused massive economic calamity for every American, President Joe Biden and House Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) made a deal on government funding levels in order to avoid further brinkmanship and a government shutdown. But now, the Speaker is walking away from his agreement in order to placate extreme members of his caucus who are demanding deep cuts to domestic programs and a host of controversial, partisan culture war policy riders, all while abandoning funding for disaster recovery and aid to Ukraine.
If Republicans force a shutdown, it could have far-reaching consequences, such as: active-duty military and federal law enforcement personnel, as well as TSA officers and air traffic controllers and other federal employees, being forced to work without pay until funds are appropriated; thousands of children would lose access to Head Start programs; FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund could be depleted, complicating disaster relief efforts; and employers can’t access the government’s E-Verify system to assure that they are hiring legal residents.
The last time Republicans shut the U.S. government down for several weeks in 2018-19 under their own President, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated it reduced economic output by $11 billion in the following two quarters—including $3 billion that the U.S. economy never regained. Earlier this week during the Republican leadership’s weekly press conference, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admitted that shutting down the federal government is a bad idea, saying: “They never have produced a policy change and they’ve always been a loser for Republicans politically.”
“It’s basic governing to pass a temporary, short term funding bill to prevent a government shutdown so Congress can complete negotiations on full-year funding bills. Yet, House Republicans have so far shown that they are unwilling, uninterested, or incapable of accomplishing this simple task. Instead, they are squabbling among themselves over how much of their extreme agenda they want to cram into this weeks-long funding bill. Even if they can agree among themselves, they know such a partisan bill cannot become law,” said Senator Reed.
“For extreme Republicans the playbook is simple: provoke a crisis, sow chaos, and blame someone else. The American people see right through it. They know government shutdowns are expensive and pointless. They remember that the last time the GOP forced a partial government shutdown it achieved nothing and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. I hope reasonable Republicans will start working across the aisle to avoid a shutdown.”
A senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Reed says leaders from both parties must come together to either pass full-year funding or a clean short-term measure to keep the federal government running and provide services to the American people.
Reed praised bipartisan progress amongst Senate Appropriators, noting that Appropriations Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) has been working closely with Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) to successfully advance all twelve of the Senate’s appropriations bills through committee with near unanimous support, and with none of the poison-pill riders tacked on, in sharp contrast to the House.
“Passing appropriations laws requires responsible leaders who can reach principled compromise. I really hope the Republican leadership can get it together, put an end to these unwarranted, partisan demands, and do their job. If they fail to do their job, it will create undue financial hardships for millions of taxpayers and working families. And ultimately, Republicans will be held accountable for causing yet another costly shutdown,” concluded Reed.
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