The U.S. Congress can do a lot to support America's workplaces and the family. By working together in a bipartisan fashion, we can ensure our constituents get jobs they need while helping employers make smart decisions about their workforce. Since coming to Congress in 1971, I have been fighting to help create an environment where the goals of the National Work and the Family Month can become a reality. This means strengthening our economy, making sure everyone has access to affordable health care, and providing for American workers by maintaining a strong social safety net.
Now that the GOP-manufactured government shutdown has ended, Congress must finally put forth a real budget. The shutdown cost our taxpayers $24 billion, and we cannot allow Republicans to continue hurting our economy and the working families who need their government to be working for them. My Democratic Colleagues and I are ready to work across the aisle to help President Obama put together a federal budget that will lead to growing small businesses and people securing means to support their families. Political brinksmanship continues to cost us jobs and hurt the middle class.
With the exciting rollout of our nation's historic step towards universal health care, we should be focusing our energy on effectively implementing the Affordable Care Act to enable the employers to provide their workers with adequate health care. Republicans should stop wasting time trying to defund, repeal or delay parts of the law. No one should go into debt if a family member gets sick or injured. That is the kind of smart policy the National Work and the Family Month promotes, and what the Affordable Care Act is on the track to accomplish.
Furthermore, we cannot allow the $40 billion that House Republicans recently threatened to slash from the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as "food stamps." It is unconscionable to cut the lifeline of 22 million low-income households who rely on the extra $489 a month, or $4.50 a day, to put food on their tables. On November 1st, cuts that will take food right out of the hands of the 47 million people living at or below the poverty line will take effect. In 2011, SNAP lifted 4.7 million people out of poverty, including 2.1 million children. Our economy is better off because of SNAP, and we need to focus on extending it to everyone in need, not making heartless cuts.
When people are healthy and not hungry, they are stronger workers building a robust economy. The National Work and the Family Month aims to raise awareness for employers to focus to execute family-friendly policies. Such strategy helps retain good workers, provide them the time they need to be with their loved ones, and promote better practices to balance life at work and home for their employees. I will do my part to help, and it is the responsibility of everyone in Congress to do the same.