|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 10.7.13
Monday, October 7, 2013 ‚Äď
recently quoted a senior White House official on the partial government shutdown as saying: ‚ÄúWe are winning... It doesn't really matter to us how long the shutdown lasts because what matters is the end result.‚ÄĚ
Really?! Nobody‚Äôs winning. It‚Äôs this kind of talk that makes me extremely frustrated. This is not a game. Everyone is losing to some extent. Government is not operating properly. Some services have been delayed. National parks are closed. Many federal workers have been furloughed. And yet, instead of negotiating with the duly elected House of Representatives, the White House is using the partial shutdown to try and score political points. They‚Äôve barricaded businesses that receive no money from the federal government in North Carolina and forced Virginia businesses to close along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The presidential leadership on this issue is lacking and disappointing. It is not leadership to barricade oneself in the Oval Office and refuse to talk to Congress.
While some in the White House seem to be playing games, and the Senate is stuck in neutral, the House continues to work to fund certain parts of the government until a wholesale resolution can be reached. With my support, the House has passed legislation that includes funding for veterans‚Äô benefits, national parks, National Institutes of Health (NIH), national guardsmen and reservists, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and nutritional assistance for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Unfortunately, one week into the partial shutdown, the Senate has refused to fund any of these programs.
The House plans to continue proposing solutions. My colleagues and I in the House will consider any good faith offer from the Senate that will fund the government and allow it to reopen.
Averting Another Shutdown
We can all agree that there are better ways to run the federal government than by continuing on our current course of operating under a series of missed deadlines and short-term spending bills. Obviously, the current process in Congress is badly in need of repair. While it‚Äôs my hope that we quickly resolve the impasse of the current partial government shutdown, we also need to find ways to ensure that we don‚Äôt repeat this process again.
Accordingly, I have cosponsored a bill that could prevent another partial shutdown. Introduced by Representative Lankford (R-OK), The Government Shutdown Prevention Act (H.R. 1164), would sustain government spending when Congress misses its deadline to pass funding bills. Importantly, the bill also incentivizes Congress to do its spending work by providing full government funding for only 120 days. After that period, funding would drop by one percentage point and would continue to decrease by that amount every 90 days. For example, if Congress hadn‚Äôt completed its spending bills six months after the deadline, government would only be funded at 98 percent. This approach would remove the threat of a partial government shutdown, and it would push Congress towards funding agreements, which is how the process should function. The last time Congress passed all government funding measures on time was 1997. Clearly, real reforms are needed. This bill may not be the perfect approach towards averting another shutdown, but it‚Äôs a step in the right direction.
The Debt Ceiling ‚Äď Then and Now
In 2006, then-Senator Obama and Senator Harry Reid opposed raising the debt limit for fear it would weaken our country. Here is what they said then.
, ‚ÄúThe fact that we are here today to debate raising America‚Äôs debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can‚Äôt pay its own bills‚Ä¶ Increasing America‚Äôs debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‚Äėthe buck stops here.‚Äô Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.‚ÄĚ
, ‚ÄúHow can the Republican majority in this Congress explain to their constituents that trillions of dollars in new debt is good for our economy? How can they explain that they think it‚Äôs fair to force our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren to finance this debt through higher taxes? That‚Äôs what it will have to be. Why is it right to increase our nation‚Äôs dependence on foreign creditors? They should explain this. Maybe they can convince the public they‚Äôre right. I doubt it. Because most Americans know that increasing debt is the last thing we should be doing‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
Now, they want Congress to sign a blank check. Don‚Äôt worry, they‚Äôll fill in the dollar amount.
To reach my office by email, please visit my website at ###