Congresswoman Slaughter faults GOP for government shutdown

Posted 1 October 2013 at 12:00 am


At 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, a group of uncompromising legislators within the House Republican caucus forced the government of the United States to close its doors.

This government shutdown is already hurting hundreds of thousands of Americans, including many New Yorkers. While we do not yet know when the government shutdown will end, my staff and I remain committed to doing all that we can for the 25th Congressional District of New York.

As Ranking Member of the House Committee on Rules, I worked around the clock to avert a government shutdown. Over the course of the last four days, I’ve taken to the House Floor three times to oppose attempts to defund the Affordable Care Act as ransom for keeping the government open.

Shutting the government down in order to undermine a democratically-passed law and prevent 30 million Americans from getting healthcare does not reflect the values that people like you and I hold dear. I will not negotiate a ransom in order to convince some in Congress to do their job.

In the coming hours and days, I will continue to do all that I can to bring forward a bipartisan bill that funds the government without any partisan gimmicks. Such legislation has already passed in the Senate, and I am confident that if Speaker Boehner brings the legislation up for a vote, it will pass the House with broad and bipartisan support.

In the meantime, the current government shutdown means that some – but not all – of the services provided by the federal government will be curtailed.

Key government operations, such as our military and national security operations, air traffic controllers, emergency personnel, border patrol and law enforcement agencies will continue to operate as usual. In addition, the US Postal Service will continue to operate and Social Security checks will continue to be delivered.

However, other vitally important federal services will either be reduced or completely suspended during a government shutdown.

Passport processing may be interrupted at select locations, and visas may go unprocessed. Medical research at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control will be greatly reduced. While some key veterans benefits will continue to be processed and VA hospitals will remain open, the Veterans Benefits Administration will be unable to process education and rehabilitation benefits. This means that our veterans now in school won’t get their tuition benefits or their student loans.

In addition, the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps pregnant women and new mothers buy healthy food and access proper nutrition, will operate for as long as it can (most likely about a week) before it also stops until the government is open again.

Finally, hundreds of thousands of working Americans – located in Rochester and across the United States – are having their pay suspended and being put on leave. This is a significant financial hardship for families and helps to add to the economic uncertainty that is being caused by the shutdown.

Tragically, all of this damage could have been avoided if Republican members of the House of Representatives had abandoned their partisan games and acted on the Senate-passed funding bill.

As I work with my colleagues in Congress to end this unnecessary shutdown, my offices will remain open and my staff and I will be available.

It is my hope that my colleagues in Congress will soon choose to join me in doing the right thing so that we can pass a bipartisan funding bill and once again allow the government to serve the people.

Louise Slaughter

(Editor’s note: Slaughter sent this letter to her constituents by email today. She represented a portion of Orleans County in Congress for 10 years until redistricting changed her district lines, effective this past Jan. 1.)