Washington Memo: Mr. Speaker, Let us vote to end the shutdown
Last week, one bloc of one party in one House of Congress forced a shutdown of the entire federal government. In New Hampshire and across the country, we’re already seeing the consequences.
Brave members of our National Guard have been furloughed. Life-saving scientific research has been stalled. Loans to small businesses have been frozen. Food assistance to children and expectant mothers has been threatened. The list goes on and on.
But instead of working in a common-sense, bipartisan way to end the shutdown, some in Washington are playing cynical political games to avoid being blamed for it. In the process, they are needlessly hurting our economy, increasing uncertainty for families and businesses, and reinforcing people’s worst assumptions about Congress’s unwillingness to focus on actually solving problems.
It’s wrong and irresponsible – but there’s an easy way to stop it.
You wouldn’t know it from all of the partisan bickering in Washington, but there is a bill on the table that would end the shutdown right now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month. Right now.
A majority of Congress – including both Republicans and Democrats – supports this bill. If it were brought to a vote, it would pass. President Obama would quickly sign it into law. The government would reopen. The cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy would recede. And Congress could get back to work and start having a rational debate about how to reduce the deficit, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class. That’s the right way forward, and it’s an approach that a majority of Congress – including myself – would support.
Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening.
Instead, the speaker of the House has refused to bring this bipartisan bill to a vote. For purely political purposes, he and a minority in Congress are pushing piecemeal measures that would leave much of our government closed and many critical priorities threatened. Things like routine food safety inspections, services for veterans’ homes and retired veterans, loans to help middle class families buy homes – and countless others.
Cherry-picking which parts of the government to reopen and which parts to keep closed is not a way to solve the problem. It’s like trying to patch a leaky roof by only filling in a few of the holes. The right way to support our veterans, our Guardsmen and women, our small businesses, and our middle class families is to fully restore the services they count on by reopening the entire government.
And here’s the worst part: The Members of Congress touting these bills as “solutions” know full well that they have no chance of becoming law or helping a single Granite Stater. Not one.
Let me be perfectly clear: These measures are not solutions. They’re cynical political ploys. They’re half-hearted half-measures. They’re empty gestures that attempt to create the appearance of progress where none exists.
This is not how we do things in New Hampshire. We don’t pit Granite Staters against one another. We don’t pick winners and losers to score political points. We put partisanship aside, work together, and do what’s in the best interests of our families, our communities, and our state.
Granite Staters don’t expect Congress to agree on everything, nor should they. We have real and important differences.
But when the stakes are so high for so many families and businesses; when there is a clear path forward that has bipartisan support; when all that’s standing in the way of ending this shutdown is political posturing – our constituents expect us to put politics aside and do the right thing.
Mr. Speaker, it’s time to stop the political games. It’s time to end the shutdown. It’s time for you to let us vote on a simple, bipartisan bill to reopen our government and move our country forward.
(Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster represents New Hampshire’s 2nd District.)