From the Senate floor today, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) urged Republican leaders in the House of Representatives to bring the Senate-passed clean CR to fund the government up for a vote since they have the votes to pass it.
But the most poignant thing Franken said came from a letter written to him by the wife of a disabled veteran who explained how the shutdown was hurting their family, but then begged him not to give in to delaying ObamaCare.
She wrote, ‘We would rather do without, than have you give in to delaying the Affordable Care Act. Please stand strong and do not let anyone change or delay this. We will sit tight without income while you work towards this.’
According to his prepared remarks, Senator Franken talked about his constituents urging him not to give in on ObamaCare, “Brenda Gregorich from Duluth wrote me on Wednesday about her husband, a disabled veteran, whose disability benefit is now further delayed due to the shutdown. She says – quote, ‘We would rather do without, than have you give in to delaying the Affordable Care Act. Please stand strong and do not let anyone change or delay this. We will sit tight without income while you work towards this.'”
Franken also detailed the many ways the shutdown is hurting the folks in his state, from seniors to mothers to farmers. He explained that this is one reason he is donating his salary during the shutdown.
These are the people the GOP shutdown is hurting — innocent victims, some of whom fought for this country. They are wiling to suffer and do without in order for ObamaCare to be implemented for those in need. How heroic are our citizens, and how irresponsible is our Congress.
Mrs. Gregorich’s words should shame the Republicans, and clearly Franken was trying to remind Republicans of the harm their shutdown was causing, but it seems they are beyond shame.
Franken mentioned the run on Minnesota’s healthcare exchange, which received approximately 100,000 web hits on its first day.
“We are now five days into a government shutdown that should never have happened,” Sen. Franken said. “Minnesotans do not want a government shutdown. They want us to do our job, not refight the same political battles over and over again. With each day of this shutdown, I hear more and more reports about how it is affecting Minnesotans. Minnesotans seeking basic government services are being turned away.”
The Senator explained that veterans are being hurt, “Some veterans’ services through the Department of Veterans Affairs are already being curtailed, and if the shutdown goes on for much longer, VA will not be able to process benefits claims and payments – aggravating the claims backlog we’ve been working hard to address.”
Franken warned that the shutdown is “putting our still-fragile economic recovery in jeopardy”, and he explained that while people think the shutdown is saving money, it’s actually not saving us any money at all:
“This shutdown is painful for our constituents and it is damaging the economy. And everyone should understand – this is costing the government money. Some people may think, well, at least if the government is shut down we’re saving money. But actually the very opposite of that is the case. A recent New York Times editorial detailed some of the reasons shutdowns end up being very expensive. A shut down government can’t collect fines and fees; contractors build in the cost of the shutdown and the added probability of future shutdowns to how much they charge the government; furloughing government workers means lost productivity; lost economic output means lower tax revenue for federal, state, and local governments.”
Sen. Franken continued, “This shutdown is unnecessary, and it’s irrational. Please, let’s reopen the government and get back to the work the people elected us to do.”
Instead of allowing a vote on the Senate passed CR that is already funded at Republican levels, Speaker Boehner is violating his agreement with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Boehner offered to pass the clean CR if Reid could get Democrats to agree to the lower levels of funding included in it. Reid delivered and now John Boehner left Reid high and dry, having ceded his power as Speaker to Senator Ted Cruz, proving once again that his word is worthless as a negotiator.
As Republicans play games to save face, Americans are hurting. American citizens deserve so much better than what they are getting from this Congress.