Frankel, Deutch say Boehner allowing ‘reckless’ minority of GOP to drive shutdownby George Bennett | October 7th, 2013
BOYNTON BEACH — On the seventh day of a partial shutdown of the federal government, U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, stood outside a Head Start center this morning to urge House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on a no-strings-attached spending bill to keep the government running.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor joined Deutch and Frankel to highlight Head Start, which gets $16.4 million a year in federal money. The commision last week approved $1.2 million in county money to replace the federal share for three weeks in hopes of getting reimbursed when a federal spending bill is approved.
The elected officials were accompanied at a news conference by representatives of Florida Atlantic University’s medical school, a food bank, a government employees union and a foundation that supports Everglades preservation. All said a prolonged shutdown will hurt their programs and the people they serve.
The Republican-controlled House has insisted that bills to continue funding the government include provisions gutting or delaying the federal health care law. The Democrat-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama have insisted on a “clean” funding bill. The impasse led to a shutdown of many government functions when the new fiscal year began last Tuesday.
“This shutdown is irresponsible, infuriating and reckless. Congress has been hijacked by 30 or 40 radical members who oppose a reasonable solution……Because of a tea party tantrum, the whole country’s been paralyzed,” said Frankel.
Deutch said a clean spending bill could pass with votes from Democrats and some Republicans in the House, but Boehner has resisted calls to bring such a bill to a vote.
“There are enough moderate Republicans on record, members of Congress that we serve with, that understand that this decision to shut the government down is irresponsible and reckless and dangerous and they will vote for that clean resolution if the speaker is willing to bring it up for a vote,” Deutch said.
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been furloughed, but Congress has agreed to give them back pay when a funding bill passes. But Avon Sansone, an executive vice president with the American Federation of Government Employees, said workers are hurting now.
“No one’s getting paid. Even though the resolution was passed that they would pay us letter, what do you do in the interim? We live paycheck to paycheck, just like you all do,” Sansone said.
John Newcomer of FAU’s medical school said research has not been interrupted yet, but future money is in question.
“You can keep going if you have a grant paid. But the point is, if that grant’s going to end in January, we need to get the new grant reviewed now so that there’ll be continuous funding. The consequences of this shutdown are going to be felt in the months to come,” Newcomer said.
Similarly, Feeding South Florida President Paco Velez said that because of the shutdown, the food bank isn’t sure if it will receive food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the holiday season. About 30 percent of the
“Past November, we don’t know if we’re going to be receiving some of our USDA commodities,” said Velez, who said his agency gets about 30 percent of the food it distributes from USDA. While the food bank has food now, he said it can’t make orders for the future.
During the impasse, the House has passed bills to continue funding for slices of the federal government, including some national parks and museums, NIH grants and veterans programs. Frankel and Deutch joined most Democrats in voting against those bills.
“I don’t think that we should be in the position of picking the winners and losers,” Deutch said. “Leadership has introduced a new bill every time they’ve gotten pressure from a particular constituency…At the rate that they were going it would take us months, if not years, to finally reopen the entire government. That’s not the right way to govern.”
Said Frankel: “Piecemealing the government, getting it back one piece at a time, doesn’t make sense. It’s a stunt, a publicity stunt. If you want to get government back to to work, bring up the bill that gets government back to work.”