At a time when we should be focused on creating jobs and building the American middle class, we're in the midst of a government shutdown because of the tea party's obsession with taking away the health care benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Enough is enough! The shutdown is clearly hurting the economy. Half a million federal employees are not working. Crops are not being harvested, because federal inspectors are not available. Small business loans are not being processed. Claims at the VA and Social Security are being delayed. This is a disaster.
The path forward is clear: Let's pass the Senate Continuing Resolution to reopen government and remove the threat of defaulting on our obligations to existing creditors. Once the immediate crisis and harm to American families subside, we can negotiate a more lasting budget.
What is the tea party faction's answer to their government shutdown? They're dribbling out one or two inadequate and incomplete spending bills each day. At this rate, we'll fund the government by 2020.
On day 1, Speaker Boehner and the tea party put forward a bill to fund military personnel but did not include death benefits for the families of servicemembers killed in combat.
On day 2, Speaker Boehner and the tea party put forward a veterans bill that included a $6.2 billion cut to VA services and failed to fund vital VA operations like VA hospital inspections, medical and prosthetic research, and the team that is working to end the VA claims backlog.
On day 8, Speaker Boehner and the tea party introduced a Head Start bill opposed by the National Head Start Association. As the NHSA explained, the bill "does not put forward a true solution to the government shutdown. Our nation's at-risk families are suffering on multiple levels and a piecemeal approach is not in their best interest."
And today, Speaker Boehner and the tea party introduced a Homeland Security bill that doesn't even fund the Secret Service, Federal Air Marshalls, cybersecurity, or missing and exploited children investigations.
This has got to stop. This is embarrassing for our country and makes our international partners nervous. The government of the biggest economy and the most important country on the planet has to be operational, and we have to honor existing debts. America cannot grow and prosper when the American government is shuttered. This crisis is making it nearly impossible for thousands of American employers to create jobs. It is time for Speaker Boehner and the tea party to restart the American government by letting the House of Representatives vote on the Senate funding bill.
Speaker Boehner: let your people go... and vote.
I welcome negotiations. I welcome compromise and cooperation. During negotiations, I look forward to asking the tea party wing in Congress to stand with us as we advocate for Make It In America policies to build America's manufacturing sector; for a complete Farm Bill that preserves the coalition of food producers and groups that advocate for hungry Americans; for a commonsense comprehensive immigration reform built on bipartisan ideas; and for flood protection and other vital infrastructure projects that keep Americans safe and improve commerce. I look forward to a day when compromise and cooperation are the new norm in Congress.
Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) represents California's Third Congressional District.