Government shutdown sparks damage control, debate
Stefanik, Congressional candidates speak out
As the federal government shutdown enters its first day in full effect, a vote is planned to reopen the government while political leaders and candidates debate who is to blame for the lack of funding.
A three-day government shutdown has occurred because Democrat and Republican members of the Senate could not compromise on immigration and military spending in a government funding bill. It passed the House on Thursday with the help of a vote from northern New York’s Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.
“Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have kept the government open and funded,” Stefanik said. “This bill also included a needed six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program that low income children in our district rely on.”
The bill would have funded the federal government through Feb. 16 and is the fourth in a series of temporary funding measures Congress has passed in recent months instead of passing a complete fiscal year budget like it usually does.
The measure did not pass because Democrats — and four Senate Republicans — wanted it to include a legislative replacement to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy allowing undocumented children brought into the U.S. to live and work in the country legally, that President Trump repealed in September.
While Trump hinted at being willing to commit to a DACA fix earlier in the month, he unexpectedly changed positions in a Jan. 14 tweet, which reads: “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”
The Democrats refused to cave on DACA, Republicans refused to cave on reducing military defense spending and neither side wanted to trade one option for the other while funding the federal government.
Now, as the country begins to feel the full effect of the shutdown, thousands of government workers have been furloughed (temporarily laid off), members of the military are not being paid and many government employees cannot even check their emails.
Stefanik, who has requested that her pay be withheld until the government is funded, also cosponsored the Pay Our Protectors Not Our Politicians Act to continue to pay military and individuals performing national security activities within the Department of Homeland Security while prohibiting Congress members from receiving paychecks as long as the government is shut down.
“It is unacceptable to allow our troops and national security personnel to forego their pay while those in the Senate responsible for this shutdown receive theirs,” Stefanik said.
Stefanik’s campaign also posed a question to the Democratic candidates running for her seat, asking if they would have voted with her to fund the federal government or if they would have opposed it. The press release, sent by the campaign’s communications director Lenny Alcivar, described the candidates as “silent,” a label Democratic candidate Patrick Nelson took issue with.
“Instead of taking responsibility and working to reopen the government, the Congresswoman blames Democratic candidates who have no power in Washington,” Nelson said. “The people of the North Country are smart enough to understand that if a party controls the House, Senate, and Presidency, then it is that party’s fault for any governmental shutdown.”
Nelson’s Press Secretary Paul Paterakis also provided screenshots of a tweet from Nelson about the shutdown the day before Stefanik’s press release’s was sent out.
The House and Senate are still in session and will meet at noon today to vote again on a spending bill, to last through Feb. 8, after several high profile meetings between Republican and Democratic leaders.
“Bipartisan solutions have been crafted on immigration yet the White House and Republican leaders have refused to listen,” Democratic candidate Don Boyajian wrote in an email. “They refused to authorize funding for CHIP three months ago in order to use children as a political pawn. It’s sickening. Let’s be clear here – Congresswoman Stefanik and her Republican colleagues control the White House and both chambers of Congress. They own the government shutdown.”
“As most working people know, if the boss finds out you can’t do the job you were hired to do, you might get fired. Blaming other job applicants and coworkers for your poor work performance doesn’t fly in the real world, and it won’t work here,” Democratic candidate Sara Idleman wrote on Twitter.
“Congress makes $3,451.00 per week not including committee pay! So when you’ve already made $10,353.00 in the first 3 weeks of the year, I really don’t see how skipping a couple paychecks is really anything more than a political stunt!” Republican candidate Russell Finley wrote on Facebook.
“As much as there are parts of the bipartisan immigration deal reached earlier this month that I disagree with, if I were in Washington, I would accept it because that’s what legislators do: they compromise,” Democratic candidate Emily Martz wrote in a press release.
“As she knows, the CHIPS program expired on 9/30/2017, while she stood idly by and let 9 million children lose healthcare coverage that saves us all money,” Democratic candidate Ronald Kim wrote on Facebook. “Her vote last night to restore CHIPS had no impact because the President shut down the government.”
“The last government shutdown cost America $1.5 billion per day (Standard & Poor’s) Washington leadership is dysfunctional — and they continue to get paid,” Democratic candidate Tanya Boone wrote on Facebook.
“At any point over the past several months – with wide bipartisan support – Elise and her party could have had a compromise solution for CHIP or DACA. But they failed to do it, and voters won’t forget come November,” Democratic candidate Katie Wilson wrote on Facebook.