Wanted to be sure you saw this op-ed by Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) in the Capital Gazette about the need for President Trump and Congressional Republican leaders to work with Democrats to reopen the government and put thousands of federal employees and contractors back to work. To read the op-ed, click here or see it below:
The Capital Gazette
The Republican Shutdown Hurts Maryland Families
By Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05)
January 15, 2019
Representing the people of Maryland’s Fifth District, including the 62,000 federal employees, is one of my greatest honors. Every day, federal employees in Maryland and throughout the nation work hard to serve the American people by strengthening our national security, protecting our health and safety, and supporting economic development and the growth of prosperity.
They deserve our praise and respect, not to be treated as hostages to political disagreements.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what President Donald Trump is doing with his unnecessary partial government shutdown. Since Dec. 21, the president and his Republican allies have forced 800,000 federal civilian employees nationwide to go without pay — all because the president wants Congress to use $5.7 billion in taxpayer funds to build an expensive and ineffective wall on our Southern border.
Instead of sitting down with Democratic and Republican lawmakers to reach a compromise on the best way to achieve border security, a goal of both parties, President Trump has refused to sign bills to fund portions of the government unrelated to border security until he gets everything he wants. That’s not leadership; it’s a temper tantrum.
When Democrats took control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3, we took immediate action to end the shutdown. As House majority leader, I brought to the floor the same funding bills that the Republican-controlled Senate approved last year, in several cases, by votes of 92-6.
Unsurprisingly, the House immediately passed them with bipartisan support. Additionally, I brought up a continuing resolution to reopen the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8 while Congress and the president continue negotiations over border security. The premise is simple: let’s not hold hardworking federal employees, their families, and the millions of Americans who benefit from their service hostage.
The next step in ending this shutdown would be for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring these funding bills up for votes in the Senate. However, he has refused to do so.
Now, even as some of his own Republican senators are calling for an end to the shutdown, Leader McConnell continues to block efforts to reopen the government on behalf of the president.
The House of Representatives will keep passing bills to reopen government as long as it takes for the Senate to act on them. We are serious about ending the Trump shutdown, and we believe that the issues of funding the government and reaching agreement on border security ought to be treated separately.
First and foremost, the responsibility of Congress and the president is to keep government open so it can serve our people. The House of Representatives has done its part; now it’s up to the Senate and President Trump.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans are shut out of government services. Families are not safe at our national parks. Lines at airport security are getting longer, putting passengers at risk.
There are fewer food safety inspectors on hand to ensure that produce is safe to eat. Vulnerable people in our communities who rely on food stamps to stave off hunger may lose access to this lifeline if the Trump shutdown continues.
President Trump said on Dec. 11 that if a shutdown occurred, he’d be proud to take responsibility. He may be responsible, but there is nothing in this shutdown in which anyone can take pride.