Here we are. Day 13 of a completely avoidable federal government shutdown, forced upon us by House Speaker John Boehner and the tea party members of his caucus.
Instead of working together with Democrats and moderate Republicans to find a bipartisan funding solution, he aligned himself with the tea party and chose the irresponsible and reckless path of a government shutdown.
If Speaker Boehner would allow the House of Representatives to vote on the Senate-approved funding bill, it would pass today with bipartisan support. Instead, he is carrying out what is clearly a plan to prolong the government shutdown by cherry-picking one piece of government he’s willing to open at a time.
The entire Congress knows that these bills have absolutely no chance of being taken up by the Senate or being signed by the president, and therefore will have no other impact than to continue this madness.
On Oct. 2, Speaker Boehner chose to put a bill on the floor that he claimed would take care of our National Guard and reservists, when in reality it did not. It neglected thousands of guardsmen and more than 40,000 furloughed military technicians who repair our aircraft.
The cynicism of this bill was so obvious that even the California National Guard strongly opposed it.
On Oct. 3, he put a bill on the floor he claimed would fund veterans’ programs. Instead, it actually cut $6.2 billion from the funding levels previously approved by the House.
Again, this bill was so egregiously cynical that even national veterans service organizations came out against this piecemeal approach because it was using veterans as a political football.
In addition to these piecemeal bills, Speaker Boehner has proposed to partially fund FEMA, the FAA, Head Start and the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program, which provides nutritional support for pregnant women and young children.
For the most part, where white is now black and up is suddenly down, these programs Speaker Boehner and the tea party suddenly love are many of the exact same programs they’ve been trying to cut since I took office.
If there were any doubt that these piecemeal bills were about politics rather than policy, within minutes of my votes against this delaying strategy the National Republican Campaign Committee sent out emails suggesting I suddenly don’t support programs I’ve spent my entire career fighting for.
Let’s be clear. The only way to help our veterans, women, infants and children, seniors, students, and middle-class families and to continue to grow out of the recession, is to immediately reopen the entire federal government.
I came to Congress to create Ventura County jobs, to invest in our future and to move our county and our country forward. Ventura County needs a Farm Bill, it needs comprehensive immigration reform, it needs a strong Navy base and it needs to ensure our veterans are cared for.
We simply cannot meet these challenges amid a government shutdown.
I have had many conversations with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and I know that were it not for the stranglehold the tea party has on Speaker Boehner, Congress would vote to end this government shutdown immediately.
I’m ready to work in a bipartisan manner to put our fiscal house in order, to create jobs and to make sure Ventura County’s rich diversity in both its people and its economy can continue to thrive.
Speaker Boehner should allow a vote to reopen the government so we can get on with the work we came here to do rather than continuing to punish the American people.
Enough is enough.