Washington, D.C - Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with CPC 1st Vice Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), today sent a letterto Speaker John Boehner urging him to work with Congressional Democrats in order to avoid another government shutdown. There are currently only five legislative days left for Speaker Boehner to find a solution to keep the government open.
“It is a sad fact about politics today that the American people are faced with a government shutdown every time a new fiscal year begins in Washington,” Rep. Grijalva said. “As the list mounts of urgent issues Republicans are neglecting, the American people are left to wonder why they’re facing another self-inflicted wound from people elected to lead this nation. We’re not asking for a lot from GOP leaders – just for them stop holding the American economy hostage over partisan demands.”
“A Republican-led government shutdown would not only wreak havoc on our economy, but it would also further delay action on finding a long term fix to the Highway Trust Fund, reforming our broken immigration system, and many other important issues that need attention,” Rep. Ellison said. “But worst of all, a shutdown will negatively affect millions of people, as it will stop the paychecks that hundreds of thousands of Americans depend on to put food on the table. It will also prevent seniors and veterans from getting the benefits they need to make ends meet and keep children out of head start educational programs. If the Republican Leadership chooses to cede power to the most extreme members of the Republican caucus, working Americans, seniors, military veterans, and students will be hit hardest. I urge Speaker Boehner to work with Members of Congress who recognize that the American people do not want, and cannot afford another government shutdown.”
“We seem to have short memories here in Congress, but the last time the Tea Party engineered a government shutdown, our economy lost $24 billion and 120,000 jobs,” Rep. Pocan said. “As a member of the Budget Committee and a small business owner for nearly 30 years, I know businesses and workers across the country struggle to cope with this continual fiscal uncertainty and legislative chaos. Our economic growth should not be jeopardized because a small number of right wing extremists want to cut access to health care services for millions of Americans. Forcing a government shutdown is not the action of responsible adults and I urge Speaker Boehner to work with Democrats to keep our government open. It’s time for Congress to grow up.”
The text of the letter is below and a signed letter can be found here.
September 22, 2015
The Honorable John Boehner
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner,
As the leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, we write to urge you to work with Congressional Democrats in order to keep the government open.
There are currently 5 legislative days scheduled before the start of the new fiscal year. We remain deeply concerned about the economic impacts of the shutdown on the American people.
The 2013 government shutdown not only undermined people’s faith in our government domestically and internationally, it cost the American taxpayers $24 billion dollars. On September 18, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen further warned that a government shutdown would jeopardize the country’s economic health. Shutting down the government is not only irresponsible; it is costly and risks Americans’ economic security.
Congress’ to-do list is growing. Before the end of the year, Congress must pass a transportation and infrastructure bill, a number of tax-extenders, the child nutrition reauthorization, Perkins Loan Program reauthorization, the Export-Import Bank reauthorization, raise the debt ceiling, and update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, among many other priorities. Given this, we urge you to work with the Members of Congress who are unwilling to risk the economic security of Americans, and avoid a government shutdown.
Here’s a snapshot of the numbers from the last shutdown:
-19,000children served by Head Start grants lost access to their school facilities
-2 billion dollars was lost as a result of payroll costs or lost productivity of furloughed workers
-800+ U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety inspections were delayed
-40,000+ veterans’ disability claims were stalled
-700 small business applications were unable to be processed, amounting in $140 million in delayed loans.
-1,400 military service members experienced delays in services aimed to ease their transition into civilian life
-Hundreds of critically sick Americans were prevented from enrolling in National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trials – with 98 percent of the National Science Foundation, nearly three-quarters of NIH, and two-thirds of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employees furloughed
As you move forward with negotiations, keep in mind the serious economic impact of the shutdown on American families and work with Congressional Democrats and Members who recognize we cannot afford another shutdown.