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Largest Federal Union Says Government Shutdown is Result of Failed Leadership

AFGE says millions of Americans will feel the effects of federal budget stalemate

WASHINGTON – In response to the federal government running out of funds to continue operations past midnight Friday, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:

“Congress and the administration have only themselves to blame for failing to keep the federal government open. This shutdown is a direct result of lawmakers continuing to punt the ball instead of having the courage to make the tough decisions that we elected them to do.

“Federal employees want to go to work. They believe in their mission and want to provide quality services to the American people. But now, 850,000 of them will report to work on Monday, only to be told to go home, while a million or more will be forced to work without pay for as long as this shutdown drags out.

“Every day that this shutdown continues, more Americans will begin to feel the effects as federal offices close their doors to the public, the government stops paying its bills, and millions of government workers and military service members no longer get paid.

“Failing to fund the government even for a day has real-world consequences. The 2013 shutdown lasted 16 days, cost American taxpayers $24 billion, and caused valuable work to grind to a halt. Hundreds of cancer patients were prevented from enrolling in NIH clinical trials, 6,300 children were denied access to Head Start programs for up to 9 days, 1,200 EPA site inspections were cancelled, and 1,400 OSHA inspections to prevent workplace fatalities and injuries were stopped. These are just a few examples.

“In a government shutdown, it is the American people who pay the price. They deserve to know that the government services they pay for will be there when they need them. I urge lawmakers to come to the table at once, resolve their differences, and pass a budget that ends this shutdown and all the uncertainty that comes with it.”

NATCA Condemns Shutdown That Harms The National Airspace System

Stable, Predictable Funding For National Airspace System Is Essential

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert issued a statement this morning condemning the shutdown of the federal government now underway, calling it the clearest proof that the status quo is broken, and a stable, predictable funding stream for the National Airspace System is essential:

“A government shutdown harms the National Airspace System (NAS). Employees, such as air traffic controllers, who are required to work during the shutdown don’t know when they will receive their next paycheck. They cannot be paid until the government is again able to expend funds.

“Making matters worse, these employees won’t have the support for them and their team that is so important in making the system work well. While all NATCA members perform duties that are critical and essential to the NAS, more than 3,000 NATCA-represented employees have been furloughed. These furloughed members work across our bargaining units at air traffic control and other FAA facilities. They are among the hundreds of thousands of federal employees negatively affected by the government shutdown. When these professionals are prohibited from working as a result of political brinksmanship, the flying public and the NAS suffer.

“Whether the shutdown lasts one hour, one day, one week, or more, it reinforces our strong belief that the status quo is broken. The NAS requires a stable, predictable funding stream in order to adequately support: air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure, and the timely implementation of NextGen modernization projects. The NAS continues to be challenged by the lack of a stable, predictable funding stream. The constant funding crises that arise from stop-and-go funding continue to wreak havoc on our system and perpetuate the current staffing crisis, which has resulted in a 29-year low of certified professional controllers.

“We will not rest until Congress ends the shutdown. In the long term, we will continue to advocate for the kind of change that will ensure the NAS has a stable, predictable funding stream for years to come.”

Kuster, Shea-Porter Vote Against Continuing Resolution For Good Reasons

In a flurry of activity yesterday, the U.S. House passed yet another continuing resolution to keep the government open for another 30 days.  The bill passed by a vote of 230-197.

Many of the House Democrats opposed this short term resolution.  Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) voted against the bill and released the following:

“Short-term funding measures are no way to run government. It’s disappointing that Congressional Republicans are unwilling to sit down and work across the aisle to provide long-term certainty for important programs that Granite State families rely on. Their short-term funding measure fails to address critical needs, including resources to combat the opioid epidemic, support our veterans, fund our community health centers, and protect young Dreamers. It’s time Congressional Republicans rolled up their sleeves and sat down with Democrats to develop a responsible long-term budget that will produce real results for the American people.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) also opposed the continuing resolution and released the following:

“I refuse to join House Republicans in abandoning the fundamental tasks of governing by kicking the can down the road yet again on the most basic responsibility we have, funding the government. In a hearing this afternoon, Admiral John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said, ‘I can’t in good conscience testify before Congress about naval power without mentioning the toxic and corrosive effect of nine years of continuing resolutions and years under the Budget Control Act…The absence of stable and adequate funding for defense makes everything that our sailors and their commanders do harder. On a scale of one to ten, the importance of stable and adequate funding scores an 11.’

“This is now the fourth extension, and it is time to end the harmful cycle of lurching between short-term funding bills with the now monthly threat of a government shutdown.

“This bill fails to:

  • Increase resources directed at the opioid epidemic fight
  • Provide predictable funding for our military and veterans’ access to health care
  • Help disaster-stricken communities
  • Extend funding for community health centers

“These monthly failures to govern are simply unacceptable, and they need to end. I will continue to stand up for Granite Staters, who are sick and tired of the constant dysfunction and excuses. We need to work together to find long-term solutions to the critical issues facing our nation, instead of kicking the can down the road one month at a time.”

 

This is not how a government is intended to work.  We can have differences in our funding priorities, but then we sit down and hash out our differences like adults.  Congress needs to grow up and do what is best for the country and pass a serious multi-year budget that meets the needs of the government and the people.

Government Shutdown Could ‘Inflict Serious Pain’ On Millions, Labor Leader Says

AFGE union president also warns against steep cuts to non-defense programs

Shutdown 2013 JDC EPA DC MD.JPGWASHINGTON – Federal government programs and services benefiting millions of Americans are in jeopardy due to a potential government shutdown and steep cuts in non-defense spending, the head of the largest union representing federal government workers told Congress.

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. urged lawmakers in a Jan. 18 letter to keep the government running beyond Jan. 19, when current funding expires.

“It is very clear that a federal government shutdown could inflict serious pain on everyday working people,” Cox said in the letter.

If Congress fails to pass a stop-gap spending bill, more than 850,000 federal government employees could be furloughed without pay and another million could be required to work without pay to keep public safety and health care programs running.

A shutdown would have wide-ranging impacts across the country, forcing the closure of national parks, museums, and zoos; delaying loans to millions of small businesses that rely on federal support; delaying payments, pensions, and educational benefits to veterans; ending applications for new Social Security benefits; and delaying paychecks for more than 2 million military service members.

President Cox also urged Congress to provide equal increases in spending for defense and non-defense programs. AFGE fully supports increasing DoD funding to enhance readiness, but not at the expense of other spending priorities.

Many agencies already are operating with barebones budgets thanks to years of deep cuts to non-defense discretionary programs. The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget has been cut by almost one-third, jeopardizing the agency’s mission to safeguard the quality of our air and water. The Social Security Administration, which has seen deep cuts in funding over the past seven years, is facing another cut of up to $492 million this year.

“SSA provides direct, personal assistance to millions of Americans every year who are applying for benefits,” Cox wrote. “A cut of this magnitude will cripple the agency’s ability to carry out its mission to help beneficiaries get the benefits they deserve.”

With Shutdown Averted Again, Largest Federal Union Looks for ‘Long-Term Solution’

AFGE says Congress and the Administration must stop using shutdowns as a ‘bargaining chip’ and find a way to ‘stop kicking the can down the road’

WASHINGTON – Thanks to a last-minute agreement between Congress and the White House, federal employees nationwide will enjoy the holidays without worrying about not working and not being paid.

A mere two weeks after the threat of a shutdown was averted, Congressional leaders in Washington brokered a deal that will allow the government to remain open – keeping all government services free of interruption, and saving 850,000 public servants from being told they are not allowed to work.

In response, the American Federation of Government Employees – which represents 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia – National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:

“A government shutdown is something we always work hard to prevent, and we’re especially happy this was averted so close the holidays. Federal working people show up to their job every day to serve the American people, and the threat of being sent home – or being told they must work without pay – is not something they should have to endure.

“It’s irresponsible to the public servants who protect our borders, inspect our food, process benefits for the elderly, disabled, and veterans, and safeguard our skies that Congress continues to play games with their livelihoods. The men and women of Congress were elected to help run our country, not find ways to politicize the 2.1 million federal workers who keep our country running. These civil servants work for the American taxpayer, and using their jobs and pay to further a political agenda is disgraceful.

“Majority of our members live paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford the cost of a government shutdown. Their livelihoods are not a bargaining chip for Congress to use as they see fit. Federal working people do their jobs free of political influence, and need a long-term solution to ensuring they can continue showing up to do the job they were hired to do. For years we’ve seen leaders on Capitol Hill find short-term solutions, but we must stop kicking the can down the road.

“This month the federal workforce has had to show up to work every day with the cloud of a shutdown looming over their heads. Wondering when or if they will get paid, and how they will pay their bills during a prolonged shutdown, is a distraction they don’t need. And quite frankly, it’s one we as a nation cannot afford.

“Now that we have a solution in place for longer than two weeks, it’s our sincere hope and belief that Congress can work together to find a way to fund the government and allow the working people who run it to focus on providing the best services they can to the American public.”

 

AFGE President Cox: “In a government shutdown, it’s the American people who pay the price.”

AFGE president calls for Congress to pass budget to keep government open past April 28

WASHINGTON – J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, today called on Congress to pass a federal budget and keep the government open for business.

“Congress shouldn’t be playing chicken with funding federal programs and services that veterans, seniors, and other hardworking people rely on,” Cox said. “In a government shutdown, it’s the American people who pay the price.”

Unless Congress passes legislation to fund the government past April 28, when the current continuing resolution expires, federal agencies will be forced to shut down most operations.

“The casualties during a government shutdown are endless,” Cox said. “There will be no more federal loans issued to small businesses or new home buyers. Federal research into cures for cancer or other deadly diseases will abruptly end. No more applications will be accepted for new Social Security cards, veterans’ benefits, and housing assistance. Our national parks, monuments, and museums will be forced to close.”

Cox also called on Congress to reject a White House proposal to cut $18 billion from federal agency budgets this fiscal year.

“The administration wants to slash funding for programs that help Americans find affordable housing, protect our environment, educate our children, and deliver mental and public health services to millions,” Cox said. “Those who need our help the most would be hit the hardest by these cuts.”

Here We Go Again, Another Government Shutdown.

Image by Brunswyk WikiCommons

Image by Brunswyk WikiCommons

Are we really going to do this again?

In 2013, we as a country endured the 16 day government shutdown that cost taxpayers $24 billion dollars.  Tea Party extremists led by Senator Ted Cruz shutdown the government in a feeble attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

No party or faction inside a party should hold our economy hostage to extract political gains,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO after the conclusion of the 2013 shutdown.

“Federal employees are nobody’s bargaining chip,” said J. David Cox Sr, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees after the 2013 shutdown concluded.

Yet here we are again, less than a week away from yet another government shutdown.  Republicans and Tea Partier’s alike are threatening to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides life saving health screenings and treatment for millions of women across the country.

“With less than two weeks until a possible government shutdown, working families in New Hampshire and across the country just don’t have time for more partisan games and political theater,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster.

“To shut down the government for any reason is irresponsible and reckless,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen at a recent event supporting Planned Parenthood. “It is simply reprehensible. We should not, we cannot let this happen.”

Even my Republican Senator, Kelly Ayotte, is calling for an end to this political grandstanding and threats of shutting down the government.

“The game Congress is playing right now is a dangerous game of chicken. We already know right now what it will take to keep the government open – a clean funding bill. We should not be wasting time on political stunt votes that will only make a shutdown more likely…” said Ayotte. “With that in mind, I cannot in good conscience support a political messaging bill that would risk a costly, harmful shutdown when there is no strategy for success. It’s time to quit the political games on both sides of the aisle. We know what we need to do to keep the government running – so let’s take that vote right now instead of playing political games while the clock ticks down.”

We have to take Senator Ayotte’s statements with a large grain of salt because she has already voted to defund Planned Parenthood and twice voted to shut down the government.

“Since going to Washington, Ayotte has not only voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood, but she’s also already voted to shut down the government twice. WGBH’s David S. Bernstein also points out that in 2013, it was only after “taking blame” from independents that Ayotte tried to “publicly position herself” against Ted Cruz’s antics,” wrote the New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Lizzy Price.

We must move out of this bi-annual shutdown cycle that we are currently stuck in.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, who were very vocal during the last shutdown, are condemning politicians for political grandstanding again.

Shutting down the government would have detrimental effects on the National Airspace System (NAS) that “contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product and the NAS supports more than 12 million American jobs.”  Aside from calling for an end to threat of government shutdowns every two years, they are calling for a new, stable source of funding from the government that would remove the NAS from the effects of partisan budgetary bickering.

“We’ve been asking Congress to establish a stable funding mechanism for the NAS since the last shutdown ended,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “Yet two years later, we find ourselves in the same situation, where the efficiency of the safest airspace system in the world could be negatively affected due to disagreement over an issue unrelated to aviation. The looming shutdown is further evidence that stable, predictable funding is an essential next step for Congress.”

We need our elected leaders to work together to resolve their differences and put partisan issues aside to keep the government open.  The health and safety of millions of Americans are at risk over this political grandstanding by Republicans in Washington.

NATCA Calls on Congress to Prevent Shutdown, Provide Stable Funding for National Airspace System

NATCA LOGOWASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is calling on Congress to prevent a government shutdown and provide the National Airspace System (NAS) with stable, predictable funding.

“We’ve been asking Congress to establish a stable funding mechanism for the NAS since the last shutdown ended,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “Yet two years later, we find ourselves in the same situation, where the efficiency of the safest airspace system in the world could be negatively affected due to disagreement over an issue unrelated to aviation. The looming shutdown is further evidence that stable, predictable funding is an essential next step for Congress.”

Commercial aviation contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product and the NAS supports more than 12 million American jobs. In order to grow, modernize and help power the U.S. economy, aviation cannot be subjected to repeated budget crises. Shutdowns, sequestration cuts, and the uncertainty they have wrought have peeled away layers of safety redundancies and diminished the FAA’s ability to maintain fully staffed and trained workforces.

There are now almost 1,000 fewer controllers in the workforce and more of them eligible to retire, 24 percent, than during the last government shutdown. Because of that shutdown and due to sequestration cutbacks, the FAA forced a halt to its hiring and training from March to December 2013, resulting in its inability to keep up with the pace of attrition. If another shutdown forces another freeze to the hiring and training of controllers, the number of understaffed facilities would increase and air traffic capacity would be reduced.

The last government shutdown was detrimental to the NAS. Three thousand NATCA aviation safety professionals, vital to the daily function, maintenance and safety of the system, were furloughed. NextGen programs, procedures and technology were delayed, which cost millions of dollars. The FAA was forced to cease maintenance work on NAS equipment, and stop important projects at the nation’s busiest airports. FAA working groups were unable to meet, delaying implementation of new airspace and safety procedures.

“For years the FAA has faced an unstable, unpredictable funding stream, and each interruption has negatively affected all aspects of the FAA’s operations and planning,” said NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. “These problems cannot continue. Air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals work day-in and day-out to keep our aviation system the safest, most efficient in the world; it’s in their DNA. Our members and the flying public deserve a work environment that is not plagued by uncertainty. Members of Congress cannot put the country through another shutdown. They must prevent it and find a way to provide stable funding for the NAS.”


Certified in 1987, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents over 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers and other aviation safety professionals.


Sen. Shaheen Calls-out Republican Congressional Leadership For Ignoring Conservation Program

Despite Bipartisan Urging, Reauthorization of Land and Water Conservation Fund Left-out of Government Funding Bill

(Washington, DC) – Despite calls from both sides of the aisle to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in legislation to avert a government shutdown, Senate Republican leadership released a proposed government funding bill that doesn’t address the expiration of the program at the end of the month. Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) decried the lack of attention by Congressional leadership to the looming shutdown of this conservation program: 

“It’s disgraceful that a program that has done so much to preserve and protect New Hampshire’s beautiful spaces is being flatly ignored by Republican leadership in Congress,” said Shaheen. “We’re on the eve of shutting down this program despite reauthorization having broad bipartisan support. This is incredibly short sighted and sets a dangerous precedent for other important conservation programs that will soon need Congressional approval. The expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is another manufactured crisis that would do real harm to New Hampshire’s outdoor recreation industry.”

Last week, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter signed by 51 senators to Senate leadership calling for the reauthorization of LWCF before it expires.  

Over the past month, Senator Shaheen has been highlighting the importance of permanently reauthorizing and fully funding LWCF to New Hampshire’s economic growth and environmental stewardship. Hosting events in Concord with Interior Secretary Jewell, Nashua, and the Ossippee Pine Barrens, Senator Shaheen discussed her track record of supporting the LWCF program and why its impact is vital to New Hampshire communities.

Tourism is New Hampshire’s second largest industry. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the outdoor recreation economy supports 49,000 jobs and produces $4.2 billion in direct consumer spending in New Hampshire.

NH Voters Strongly Support Planned Parenthood Funding

New Survey Finds New Hampshire Voters Strongly Support Planned Parenthood Funding, Strongly Oppose Potential Government Shutdown

Poll Finds Major Political Liability for Senator Ayotte Due to Her Support for Defunding Preventive Health Care Services at Planned Parenthood

Planned_Parenthood_logo.svgWashington, DC—A new survey conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of Planned Parenthood Action Fund shows that New Hampshire voters strongly support Planned Parenthood despite weeks of outrageous political attacks from anti-abortion extremists and their allies in Congress. The poll found strong opposition to measures like the one the Executive Council approved last week to defund the preventive health services, including cancer screenings and birth control, that Planned Parenthood provides to millions of women in communities across the country; overwhelming opposition to a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood; and major political liability for Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who voted earlier this month to defund these vital health services.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 66 percent of New Hampshire voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services, including 72 percent of Independents.
  • 65 percent of New Hampshire voters do not believe that defunding is justified by the deceptively-edited videos released in recent weeks by anti-abortion extremists.
  • An overwhelming majority of New Hampshire voters (75 percent), including a majority of Republican voters (51 percent), have an unfavorable reaction to the idea of shutting down the federal government to block any funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • 56 percent of New Hampshire voters would be less likely to support Sen. Ayotte for re-election as a result of her vote to defund preventive health care services at Planned Parenthood.
  • Roughly two-thirds of New Hampshire voters (68 percent) want Sen. Ayotte to take a clear stand right now against shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood. And nearly two-thirds of voters (62 percent) would be less likely to support Sen. Ayotte for re-election if she votes to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood.

You can find a memo from Hart Research Associates HERE. You can find the poll’s top lines HERE.

Statement of Geoff Garin, President, Hart Research Associates

“These findings in New Hampshire mirror the findings from our national survey: strong support for Planned Parenthood, strong opposition to defunding, and clear political danger signs for Senators who continue to pursue attacks on Planned Parenthood and an anti-women’s health agenda. Support for defunding Planned Parenthood will take a political toll on Sen. Ayotte, including among voters who otherwise might be inclined to support her for reelection. These results leave little doubt that those who want to lead their party to a shutdown fight over Planned Parenthood are creating the likelihood of a political debacle for the Republican Party brand and for GOP candidates in 2016 reelection battles.”

Statement of Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“Today’s poll makes it clear: American voters continue to stand strongly with Planned Parenthood and reject these transparently political attacks. Voters know who Planned Parenthood is: the nation’s most trusted reproductive health care provider, and the place millions of women, men and young people turn to each year for basic, preventive care such as birth control or cancer screenings. This relentless, month-long campaign by anti-abortion extremists has not swayed voters, instead they see it for what it is: a concerted effort to end access to safe and legal abortion that is well outside the mainstream. As this poll, and the three national polls before it have shown us, there is a political price to pay for politicians who attack Planned Parenthood and get swept up in a race to the bottom on women’s health.”

Statement of Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund

“For fifty years, tens of thousands of New Hampshire women, men, and young people have chosen Planned Parenthood of Northern New England as their healthcare provider. Today’s polling makes it crystal clear that politicians like Senator Kelly Ayotte, who has repeatedly voted for defunding Planned Parenthood, are on the wrong side of public opinion, the wrong side of public health, and the wrong side of history. New Hampshire voters are watching and they will remember in 2016.”

Last year, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England served 41,643 patients, nearly 13,000 of them in New Hampshire.

Planned Parenthood’s non-profit health centers provide a wide range of preventive health care services, and serve a total of 2.7 million patients per year — at least 60 percent of whom benefit from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family planning program and Medicaid. More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are in rural or medically-underserved areas, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, our patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care. More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood provides is preventive, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Approximately 1 in 5 women has relied on a Planned Parenthood health center for care in her lifetime.

The surveys released today follow a national survey with similar findings released two weeks ago. That survey found that 64 percent of voters nationwide, including 72 percent of Independents, do not agree with Congressional Republicans who say that “there should be an immediate vote to end all government funding for Planned Parenthood, including for services Planned Parenthood provides, such as cancer screenings and family planning” because of the videos.

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Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including legislative education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy. Follow us on Twitter.

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