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Monday, May 20, 2024

Failure to compromise, failure to govern

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The federal government’s fiscal year ends at midnight on September 30th. If Congress fails to pass the annual Appropriations bills for each department and agency, these agencies will shut down, causing unnecessary pain to federal workers and countless Americans who rely on federal programs to survive.

This shutdown is happening because a few extremists in the House of Representatives are holding the government hostage for the sake of political games. They are making unreasonable demands that they know will not pass the Senate or be signed into law – all to push an extreme agenda that is more about making headlines than making progress. This far-right fringe does not represent most Americans, or even most members of their own party. This is not an issue of Democrats versus Republicans – this is about MAGA extremists playing games at the expense of the American people.

I’ve joined my Democratic colleagues in calling on Speaker Kevin McCarthy to put partisanship aside and end this crisis, but a shutdown seems imminent. I will keep doing everything I can to protect Hoosiers from these extreme actions. 

A shutdown will especially hurt working families, and it will disproportionately impact Black Americans.

A government shutdown could mean hundreds of thousands of federal workers will miss paychecks, while others will be furloughed. Indiana is home to 23,785 federal employees, with an estimated 11,463 federal employees in Indianapolis – or nearly 3 percent of all employed individuals. Nationwide, 18% of federal employees are Black. This doesn’t count contractors at federal agencies, from service workers to minority contractors and subcontractors that likely will not get paid during this time. While gender and racial pay gaps among the federal workforce have declined, they still exist. Missing a paycheck or receiving it late can be devastating for households living paycheck to paycheck.

It’s also important to note that while a government shutdown means countless federal employees will go without a pay, the extremists in Congress who forced this shutdown by refusing to compromise won’t lose their paycheck. MAGA extremists are taking bets that are low-risk for themselves, but high risk for hardworking, average American households.

While Social Security benefit payments should still be disbursed, in previous shutdowns benefit verification and card issuance services have been interrupted. This can delay processing for recipients’ entitlement claims. Among seniors 65 and older, Social Security is the sole source of income for 33 percent of Black Americans nationwide, compared to 18 percent of white Americans.

The shutdown also jeopardizes SNAP and other vital federal nutrition programs and leaving Indianapolis families with delayed, reduced or even zero benefits. The Black community has consistently faced hunger at higher rates than white Americans.  About 27% of both adult and child SNAP recipients are Black. American children and families should not go hungry because MAGA extremists can’t govern.

A government shutdown would hurt our economy, which has improved for every American under President Biden. The U.S. has experienced record low unemployment – including record-low unemployment for Black Americans — and record high job creation. We still have more to do to improve our share of economic success, but a shutdown would severely hurt this progress. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the partial government shutdown in 2019 cost our economy $11 billion dollars.

A shutdown would also undermine our safety by threatening inspections and disaster preparedness. The Environmental Protection Agency would stop most inspections at hazardous waste sites, drinking water and chemical facilities. Also, the EPA would pause plans and permit reviews that ensure safe water and clean air standards are met. Black Americans already suffer disproportionate impacts from climate disasters. Black communities are  twice as likely as white households to lack indoor plumbing – making public health risks even more dangerous for Black families.

If we suffer a preventable shutdown, my office is available to answer questions, but make no mistake: I’m doing everything in my power to keep the government running and working without interruption. While a government shutdown impacts any middle-class American, we know there’ll disproportionate impacts on Black Americans.

I’m committed and ready to work with all my colleagues of good will – whether they are Democrat or Republican – to ensure there are no cuts, no layoffs, and no shutdown. The pain it will cause to our country is not worth any petty, partisan fight.

It’s time to stop playing games. The American people deserve a government that works.

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  1. Maybe the congressman should not have allowed open boarders.. that’s all they want is to close the open boarder policy.. to actually follow the law? Now that’s “extreme”? This is where we’ve come, name calling and passing the blame.

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