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Kelly Ayotte’s Dysfunctional Republican Majority Fails Students, the Environment and 9/11 First Responders

Concord, N.H. – Yesterday, Kelly Ayotte’s dysfunctional Republican majority pulled off a stunning trifecta: managing to fail students, the environment and 9/11 first responders all in a single day’s work.

“There is no question that Kelly Ayotte’s dysfunctional Republican majority is simply not working,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs. “Letting any one of these programs expire for students, the environment and 9/11 first responders would have been bad enough, but to let all three expire in one day because of Washington Republicans’ political games is simply mind boggling.”

See below for more details: 

New York Daily News: 9/11 heroes face death as dysfunctional Congress lets Zadroga Act expire

“… a key part of the life-saving bill expired at 12:01 a.m. Thursday when a dysfunctional and gridlocked Congress failed to act to renew it. ‘Stress is not even the word. It’s beyond stress,’ said Poliseno, who is married with two daughters — Olivia, 9, and Victoria, 11. ‘My life depends on this.’”

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Federal conservation fund allowed to expire for first time in 50 years

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund, a pot of federal money filled with offshore drilling royalties used for conservation projects and parks, expiredWednesday, meaning no new money can be deposited into it… The fund, which has never been allowed to expire in its 50-year history, has helped build fishing access sites, city parks and hiking trails… [Tester] said the failure falls on the Republican majority and shows that they don’t care about public access to public lands.”

Nashua Telegraph: Nashua joins Shaheen in conservation support

“Nick Caggiano, superintendent of Nashua’s Parks and Recreation Department, praised the conservation fund for allowing the city to develop new programs and facilities, as well as the ability to maintain and upgrade its current sites. ‘The funding is very important,’ he said. ‘And that’s $1.2 million that I wouldn’t otherwise have.’ In addition to the positives it brings to the city’s green landscape, funding for such recreational projects help attract new residents to the downtown, according to Tracy Hatch of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

WSAU: Federal Perkins Loan Program expires without Congressional reauthorization

“The federal government passed their continuing resolution to keep the government running without a partial shutdown Wednesday, but a very popular program did not get an extension. The Federal Perkins Loan Program expired at Midnight.  The Perkins program had been around for 57 years, until Midnight, when it reached it’s sunset date. This program was a revolving loan pool funded by both government and universities that made fixed rate low interest loans to income-eligible students.”

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 Senate Republicans Threaten To Shut Down The Government Over Budget

Ranking Democratic Finance Committee Members Respond to Republican Threats to Shut Down Government Unless They Get Their Way

Concord, N.H. – Ranking Democratic Finance Committee members Representative Mary Jane Wallner and Senator Lou D’Allesandro issued the following statement in response to New Hampshire Republicans’ threats to shut down government unless they get their way on the budget:

“It’s extremely disappointing that New Hampshire Republicans are sending such a clear signal that they are not willing to compromise during the Committee of Conference process and are threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. Enacting a balanced, fiscally responsible budget will require Republicans to compromise with Democrats – not just with Bill O’Brien and the Tea Party.”

“While Governor Hassan has made clear that she’s ready to roll up her sleeves and work across party lines to reach a bipartisan compromise that will move New Hampshire’s economy forward, New Hampshire Republicans are already planning to shut down state government.”

“We urge our Republican colleagues to reconsider this uncompromising stance and work with us to pass a fiscally responsible budget that continues our bipartisan progress for New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy.”

Shea-Porter: No Budget, No Vacation

The least productive Congress ever should stay in Washington
until a budget is agreed to

WASHINGTON, DC – With only six legislative days remaining before the House of Representatives goes home for the holidays, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter added her name to the newly introduced H. Res. 424, legislation that would prevent Congress from adjourning for the remainder of the year unless it passes a budget conference report by December 13th.

“The least productive Congress ever should stay in Washington until a budget is agreed to,” Shea-Porter said. “Without fulfilling this basic function, there is no question that Congress should not go on vacation.”

The 113th Congress is on track to have the least productive year in Congressional history. But next Friday, the House of Representatives is scheduled to go home for the holidays until January 7th. Earlier this week, Speaker of the House John Boehner had this outrageous response for reporters asking about progress in the Republican-led Congress:  “We’ve done our work.”

Without agreeing to a budget, Congress risks another government shutdown and credit default as early as January 15, 2014. Without authorizing the nation’s Farm Bill, the price of milk could skyrocket to $8.00 per gallon in January.  Additionally, unemployment insurance, common sense gun legislation, and jobs bills all remain on the table but unpassed.

Earlier today, Shea-Porter supported a motion that would have forced Congress to pass a budget conference report before adjourning for the year. In early August, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives asking Congress to extend its session in order to end sequestration and pass job-creating legislation. You can watch the video here.


Shea-Porter Urges Speaker Boehner to Stop Playing Games with U.S. Default

CSP Official PhotoWASHINGTON, DC – Building on her efforts to end the government shutdown and put Americans back to work, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today called on Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to stop threatening default, end the government shutdown, and work across the aisle on a bipartisan budget that grows the economy and creates jobs.

In two days, the United States is slated to exhaust its borrowing authority, resulting in self-inflicted wounds that could cripple economic growth, create uncertainty for families and businesses, and drive the country back into recession. Increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending nor does it increase the deficit. It simply allows the Treasury Department to pay the bills Congress has already incurred.

“Instead of taking our country to the brink of default, Washington Republicans should reopen the government and ensure America pays its bills on time so we can negotiate a bipartisan budget and focus on growing the economy,” Shea-Porter said. “For Speaker Boehner to allow the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party to put its ideology ahead of the health of the U.S. economy and financial security of New Hampshire families is irresponsible and unacceptable.”

In recent days, Senate Democratic and Republican lawmakers have held multiple meetings over a bipartisan approach to ending the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling. To date, House Republican leaders have refused to bring a bipartisan funding bill up for a vote. Today, Speaker Boehner discussed introducing legislation that would only raise the debt ceiling if parts of the Affordable Care Act were repealed or delayed, such as removing requirements that employer-offered health insurance cover birth control and other forms of contraception.

“These partisan politics are exactly what Granite Staters hate about Washington,” Shea-Porter said. “This shutdown has now dragged on for two weeks, and that’s two weeks too many. It’s time to re-open our government, pay our nation’s bills, and work together to create jobs.”

Economists and politicians have widely agreed that failure to raise the debt ceiling will have significant negative consequences on the U.S. economy.

President Ronald Reagan: “The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate.”

Judd Gregg, Former Republican Senator from New Hampshire: “Defaulting on the nation’s obligations, which is the alternative to not increasing the debt ceiling, is not an option either substantively or politically. A default would lead to some level of chaos in the debt markets, which would lead to a significant contraction in economic activity, which would lead to job losses, which would lead to higher spending by the federal government and lower tax revenues, which would lead to more debt.   It understates things to say merely this is not a smart position to put forward. It is a terrible policy that would produce immense economic disruption and very difficult times for people on Main Street.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce:  “The U.S. Chamber respectfully urges the House of Representatives to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner and thus eliminate any question of threat to the full faith and credit of the United States government.” [letter to Congress, 9/18/13]

Ben Bernanke, Chairman Federal Reserve Bank: “A government shutdown, and perhaps even more so a failure to raise the debt limit, could have very serious consequences for the financial markets and for the economy.”

Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics: “It will be devastating to the economy… Consumer confidence will sharply decline, investor confidence, business confidence. Businesses will stop hiring, consumers will stop spending, the stock market will fall significantly in value, borrowing costs for businesses and households will rise.”

Bloomberg Editorial Board: “A default could trigger a global crash.”

Steve Bell, Senior Director for Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center: “I don’t know any serious person who doesn’t think this will be cataclysmic.”

Washington Post: “[A] debt-ceiling breach would push the economy into a free fall…The Obama administration will have to decide whether to delay — or possibly suspend — tens of billions of dollars in Social Security checks, food stamps and unemployment benefits if negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling are not resolved this week, experts say, one of the many difficult choices officials will have to make at a time when the government will essentially be running on fumes.”

New York Times Editorial Board: “The Republican-induced government shutdown and the party’s threats to create another crisis next week over the debt ceiling are causing harm internationally as well as at home. They are undermining American leadership in Asia, impeding the functioning of the national security machinery, upsetting global markets and raising questions about the political dysfunction of a country that has long been the world’s democratic standard-bearer.”


Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Says “No Congressional Spa Until Shutdown Ends”

 GYM StockWASHINGTON, DC – The government has been shut down for eleven days, but Members of Congress continue to have access to an exclusive gym and spa while workers face furloughs and taxpayers foot the bill. Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) cosponsored the Shutdown Prioritization Act (SPA) which would force House Speaker John Boehner to remove the Members-only gym and spa from his list of “essential” House services.

paul-ryans-workout-plan“It is absolutely outrageous that John Boehner refuses to end the government shutdown but continues to give Members of Congress access to an exclusive spa,” Shea-Porter said. “It’s ridiculous for Paul Ryan and John Boehner to keep this taxpayer-funded luxury open while New Hampshire families and business are denied access to their government.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has strongly denounced the shutdown and has repeatedly called on House Leadership to allow a vote on a clean funding bill to reopen the government, put people back to work, and get our economy moving again.

To date, Speaker Boehner and Tea Party Republicans have refused to allow an up or down vote on noncontroversial legislation to reopen the government. But Boehner has deemed cushy perks like the House gym, sauna, and steam room – which are used exclusively by Members of the House of Representatives who pay a nominal membership fee – “essential” during the shutdown.

Members of Congress should not be able to access the taxpayer-supported gym, sauna, and steam room while tens of thousands of federal employees remain furloughed.

“How can Speaker Boehner decide that a steam room is essential but a paycheck for workers is not?” Shea-Porter added.

Additional details about the Shutdown Prioritization Act are available here.

Kuster Signs Petition to End Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) announced that she has signed a petition that would force a vote on a bipartisan bill to end the government shutdown and restore important services to Granite State families and businesses. In recent weeks, Speaker Boehner has repeatedly refused to bring this bill to a simple vote even though it enjoys bipartisan support from a majority of Congress.

“Nearly two weeks into this damaging shutdown that’s hurting Granite State families and businesses, it’s time for a simple vote to reopen the government,” Kuster said. “We need to put an end to the gamesmanship, reopen the government, and move on so that we can focus on creating jobs and opportunity for middle class families.”

The special congressional procedure, known as a discharge petition, allows a majority of members to force an up or down vote on a bill to reopen the government. This petition only needs a majority of House members to sign on and does not require any action by the Republican leadership.

In an op ed earlier this week, Kuster called on Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on this measure so that Congress can move on and start working together to reduce the deficit, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class.

Federal Workers Get A Promise To EVENTUALLY Get Paid As The HOUSE Goes Into Recess

Today in the U.S. House, Representatives voted to provide back pay to all furloughed federal employees when the shutdown ends.  The Hill broke the news; “members approved the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, H.R. 3223, in a 407-0 vote.”

This is great news for furloughed federal workers who can rest a little easier knowing that eventually they will get their pay back.

NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter was a co-sponsor of the bill.  Porter’s district includes the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where over 4000 workers were forced into furlough by the shutdown.  These are the same DOD workers were forced to take unpaid furlough days last year due to the ‘Sequester’ cuts.

“I was proud to cosponsor this legislation to ensure workers are not unfairly punished due to Washington gridlock, and I’m glad the House passed it,” Shea-Porter said. “But this bill does not address the urgent need for Congress to do its job and reopen the full federal government. It’s time to put aside partisan politics and allow a vote on a clean funding bill that has bipartisan support and would put people back to work.”

NH Congresswoman Annie Kuster sent out this statement shortly after the vote.

“Hard working federal employees shouldn’t lose their pay because of gridlock in Congress, and this common sense bill will ensure that they don’t. Now it’s time for Speaker Boehner to let us vote on a bill to fully end the shutdown and restore services for New Hampshire families.”

This bill pays workers what is owed to them only AFTER the government reopens.  The question is when will the shutdown end?  The House has moved into recess to allow members to go home for the weekend.

Some Representatives in the House we not happy with this decision to go into recess.  Rep Shea-Porter spoke out against the recess!  In a short one-minute speech on the House floor, Shea-Porter said:

“Now I find out that we [the House of Representatives] are going home. Speaker Boehner has decided that Congress will go home tomorrow. How can we possibly go home? 

“There are people [in New Hampshire] who are not being paid. People here who are not being paid; police were not paid who work here every day. Across this country people are not receiving what they paid for, and we’re going home? 

“I’m embarrassed about this. We should stay here. And if they can’t agree to accept the fact that they lost the vote on the health care law, again and again, if they can’t agree to that, can they at least agree to work on jobs? There’s plenty of work to do in this country. And we have no right to go home until we get this job done.”

This is what every single legislator in Washington should be saying until they reopen the government.  Even though they will be eventually get paid that could mean weeks or months without a paycheck.  What are they supposed to eat until the government reopens?

Congress should stay in Washington, and stay in session until they resolve this shutdown.  Working families throughout the country are depending on them to fix this situation before they end up missing paychecks.

The actual federal workers are not the only ones being harmed by this shutdown. Melissa Roseboro is a federal contract worker at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  As a contractor there is still question as to whether she will be given any type of back pay.  Roseboro, along with many other low-wage federal contract workers spoke out against this shutdown in a sit-in at Speaker Boehner’s office.

“As it is, I am barely able to pay my rent and put food on the table with what I make at McDonald’s in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.”

“I am forced to rely on public assistance to get by.  But this shutdown is making it impossible for me to even scrape by. Every day the government is shut down is another day I don’t have any money to feed my family. So we are here to ask House Republicans, who continue to get paid while playing politics with my job and my wages, to help us pay our bills.  My rent was due yesterday. It’s not right, and I need Congress to end this shutdown and let us work.”

People need to get back to work so they can earn a paycheck and pay their bills.  Speaker Boehner has to power to end this shutdown.  All he has to do is call for a vote on a clean continuing resolution. A clean CR definitely has the numbers to pass.  It just has to be called for a vote by Speaker Boehner.

The Working Poor Are Becoming Homeless and Congress’ Response: Defund The ACA

Homeless manToday the New York Times posted an article “In New York, Having a Job, or 2, Doesn’t Mean Having a Home” and if you have not already read it, you should.  It tells the stories of people who work in NYC and are forced to live in a homeless shelter.

“On many days, Alpha Manzueta gets off from one job at 7 a.m., only to start her second at noon. In between she goes to a place she’s called home for the last three years — a homeless shelter.”

This truly depressing story is about the working poor.  The working poor are those who have a job (or as the article highlights two jobs) and still are below the poverty level.  This is a huge problem.  In NYC over 50,000 people call a homeless shelter their home.

“More than one out of four families in shelters, 28 percent, include at least one employed adult, city figures show, and 16 percent of single adults in shelters hold jobs.”

This is just another example of how low wage jobs do not provide enough for people to actually live.

“A one-bedroom in East New York or the South Bronx is still $1,000 a month,” said Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst with the Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy and housing services group. “The jobs aren’t enough to get people out of homelessness.”

New York City is not alone when it comes to working poor.  There is not one state in the entire country where a low-wage worker can afford a two bedroom apartment working 40 hours a week.  In many states a low-wage worker needs to work over 100 hours a week to afford an apartment.

Yesterday the Census Bureau released their latest finding that over 15% of all Americans are living in poverty.  MSNBC reported, “46.5 million Americans—including 16.1 million children—remain impoverished, half a decade into the post-recession economic recovery.”  Bloomberg reported, “almost 22 percent of Americans under age 18 were in poverty in 2012.” (“The poverty threshold for a family of four in 2012 was $23,283, according to the report.”)

It gets even worse.  The website American Prospect reported, “median incomes have fallen in the last ten years by more than 11 percent.”  The middle class is shrinking and workers are loosing ground every year.  “Altogether, from 2000 to 2012, median income for non-elderly households fell from $64,843 to $57,353, a decline of $7,490, or 11.6 percent.”

(See Senator Bernie Sanders talk about the Census report on the Senate floor)

Why are more people not outraged that over one-tenth of the people living in America are living in poverty? We should be screaming at our legislators to create policy to help these people lift themselves out of poverty by increasing the federal minimum wage.  Instead they are work to repeal Obamacare and cut SNAP programs.

With all of its faults, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is already showing signs of progress when it comes to helping the uninsured.  “The percentage of people without health insurance dropped to 15.4 percent from 15.7 percent in 2011. It was the second straight year of improvement in coverage. The health law, which will also expand state-run Medicaid programs for the poor starting Jan. 1, is projected to extend coverage to at least 25 million uninsured by 2016, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.”

Even today the US House is pushing to cut funding for the ACA by threatening to shut the government down.  Roll Call is reporting that Speaker Boehner will tie the defunding of Obamacare to the ‘Continuing Resolution’ to keep the government open.  For those who do not speak Congressional jargon this means that Boehner and his buddies are putting forward a bill (a Continuing Resolution) to fund the government.  They need a Continuing Resolution because they cannot pass a budget and they need to have some type of operating budget by Oct 1st, the beginning of the fiscal year.  They then amended this Continuing Resolution to include funding for everything in the government except for the ACA.

Simply put, pass the bill to defund the ACA or we will shut the government down.

At the same time Congress is debating cutting more funding for low-income families in the SNAP program.   Congresswoman Annie Kuster spoke out against these cuts on the floor of the US House.

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a heavy heart because this body will soon consider a bill that would cut 4 million children from their nutrition benefits.”

So lets recap, one out of every ten American adults and one in four American children are currently living in poverty.  Minimum wage workers are falling into homelessness.  Republicans want to cut supplemental nutrition programs to 4 million impoverished children.  All because they want to end the Affordable Care Act and get our financial house in order.

Where is minimum wage increase?  Where are the jobs bills?  What are they really doing to help the working poor who are spend 10-14 hours a day working only to live in complete poverty?

Their answer to these questions and everything else is to hold another vote to end the ACA.   They must think something is going to change with lucky number 42.

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