Dina Titus — Notes from the Hill

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993
079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993 (Photo credit: David Holt London)

An extreme faction of the Republican Party forced a shutdown of the entire federal government. In Nevada and across the country, we’re already seeing the dire consequences of this manufactured crisis.

Brave members of our National Guard have been furloughed. Critical medical research has been halted; access to federal student loans and Pell grants has been delayed; and small business loans for women entrepreneurs have been cut off.

If this shutdown continues, WIC programs across the country will run dry and 9 million women, including over 74,000 in Nevada, will lose access to the nutrition assistance they rely on to survive. As many as 19,000 at-risk kids will be kicked out of their Head Start classrooms – and that is on top of the 57,000 kicked out by sequestration. This hurts children who deserve a leg up and working mothers who struggle to find adequate childcare at a cost they can afford. The list of negative impacts goes on and on.

But instead of working to find a commonsense solution to end the shutdown, some lawmakers are playing reckless, political games at the expense of the American people.

Americans are fed up with the political obstructionism and dysfunction that have led our country to this unnecessary government shutdown. And there’s an easy way to stop it.

Right now, there is a clean funding bill (a C.R. or continuing resolution) on the table that would end this madness. All it takes is 15 minutes and one vote.

Congressional members in both parties and houses of Congress support it. If it were brought to a vote, it would surely pass. The President would sign it into law and the government would reopen. Congress could refocus and start having a reasonable debate about how to reduce the deficit, grow our middle class, and create new jobs.

Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House refuses to bring this clean funding bill to a vote. Instead, the Republicans have pushed a series of piecemeal measures that neglect essential services for veterans, vital nutrition assistance for low-income families, and countless other programs that help seniors, children, and small businesses.

Cherry-picking parts of our government is irresponsible and unfair. The best way to take care of the needs of all Americans is to pass a single, simple, clean continuing resolution that would immediately reopen the entire government.

It’s time to put aside politics, call a vote on the clean funding bill to reopen the government, and end this harmful brinkmanship.

Surely taking 15 minutes and one vote is not too much to ask to reopen the government, end the uncertainty threatening our economy, and give the American people confidence in knowing their elected officials are working for their best interests.

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Rep. Amodei Hath Definitely Become Sharron Angle

Our federal government is being held hostage by a band of Republican extremists who want to radically reshape our country. But while Republicans have made high-profile attempts to defund President Obama’s signature healthcare law, that’s not their only target.

Fifty House Republicans, including Rep. Mark Amodei, just sent a letter to Speaker Boehner urging him to make cuts to Social Security benefits before the debt ceiling is raised and our government is reopened. That’s why I started my own campaign on CREDOMobilize.com, which allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to Rep. Amodei and the other 49 House Republicans who signed the letter, says the following:

Stop irresponsibly and recklessly demanding cuts to Social Security benefits as a precondition for ending the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling. End the hostage-taking and leave Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits alone!

We can’t let them get away with it. Click here to tell Rep. Amodei that our Social Security system is not a ransom.

Sign-the-Petition-blu.fw

The letter Rep. Amodei sent to Speaker Boehner reads like a wish list straight out of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s playbook:

  • raising the retirement age
  • slashing annual cost-of-living adjustments through a new formula known as “chained CPI”
  • means testing for Social Security recipients
  • asking the wealthy to pay even less into the Social Security trust fund

Cutting benefits for those most in need just to give the very wealthiest Americans another tax break is outrageous enough. Demanding them as a precondition for funding the government and ensuring we don’t default on our national debt obligations is both reckless and irresponsible.

Our Social Security system needs to be expanded, not cut. Cost-of-living adjustments already struggle to keep up with the rising costs that seniors face every day. If these Republican extremists get their way, everyone who receives Social Security now — or who will receive it in the future — will see less and less in return for what they paid in over their lives.

I hope you’ll speak out today and tell these extremist Republicans to stop their hostage-taking.

Oklahoma Woman Tells GOP Lawmakers: Without Obamacare, ‘I Will Be Dead Before My 27th Birthday’

BY TARA CULP-RESSLER ON OCTOBER 7, 2013

26-year-old Kendall Brown

26-year-old Kendall Brown [CREDIT: COURTESY OF KENDALL BROWN]

As the deadline approached for Congress to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded, Republicans refused to strike a deal unless it defunded or delayed Obamacare. Now, a week later, GOP lawmakers still seem unwilling to compromise unless they are able to dismantle some of the health reform law. One Oklahoma resident wants them to understand the human impact of that political position.

On the eve of the looming government shutdown, 26-year-old Kendall Brown published an open letter to the lawmakers who wanted to delay Obamacare for one year before agreeing to pass a funding bill. Brown didn’t mince words. “I am dying, because of the political games you are playing right now,” her op-ed began.

The Oklahoma resident explained that she was born with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that has no cure. When Brown was in college, she was removed from her mother’s health care coverage. Since her illness prevented her from being able to take a full course load, she couldn’t meet the credit requirements to qualify as a student to remain on the plan. During that time, she could only afford a limited student health plan, and she accumulated thousands of dollars in medical debt.

Once Obamacare allowed young adults to remain on their parents’ plans regardless of their academic status, Brown was able to return to her mother’s insurance. That provision of the health law was enacted at a crucial time — not long afterward, Brown needed to undergo emergency surgery to remove two feet of her intestine that had swollen shut. She wouldn’t have been able to afford the procedure otherwise.

But Brown is now 26 years old, and no longer qualifies for coverage under that Obamacare provision. Although she’s currently employed full-time at a nonprofit, the small organization can’t offer her any health benefits. She’s tried to apply for insurance plans on her own, but she’s been denied because of her pre-existing condition. She cannot currently afford the lifesaving treatment to manage her illness, a form of chemotherapy that costs $15,000 for each infusion. She is desperate to enroll in the health law’s new marketplaces so she can have the coverage she needs.

“I tell you this because I am tired of being reduced to a number, a statistic or, even worse, being described as a freeloader that wants to live off of the government health care teat,” Brown explains in her open letter. “I tell you this because if you defund Obamacare, or delay it even for one year, as you are debating today, then this will be my last letter to you. I will be dead before my 27th birthday.”

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Brown explained that she had been following the political drama in the lead-up to the current shutdown, and she decided to write her letter “out of incredible hurt and anger.”

“I don’t think that our elected officials are willfully terrible people — I think they are just so caught up in the game, so dead set on doing whatever it takes to get those votes next re-election season, that they forget that they’re talking about actual people,” the Oklahoma resident explained. “That’s what I wanted them to remember from reading my letter.”

Brown believes that Obamacare has already saved her life, because it allowed her to receive surgery while she was covered under her mother’s plan as a young adult. “Without that surgery I would have died a very painful death,” she noted. And with the law’s state-level insurance marketplaces opening to the public, Brown says her life will be saved all over again. She’ll be able to afford her medications and her regular chemotherapy treatments. She’ll hopefully be able to avoid another surgery.

But she’s still disappointed in her lawmakers. Congress ultimately failed to delay Obamacare’s marketplaces from opening for enrollment, but the federal government has still ground to a halt. And in Brown’s home state of Oklahoma, politicians are still resistant to health reform. Some Republicans continue to fight against the health law’s optional Medicaid expansion, which would help extend coverage to the state’s considerable uninsured population. Seventeen percent of Oklahoma adults don’t have health coverage.

“I am a very proud Oklahoman, and I plan to make my career and raise a family here, but I do not feel that our state elected officials are serving our best interests,” Brown told ThinkProgress, saying she’s “baffled and saddened” that her elected officials have dug in their heels against health reform.

“That, to me, is not in the spirit of being an Oklahoman,” she continued. “I grew up in a small western Oklahoma town, where you took sick neighbors casseroles and you offered to watch each other’s children. In short — you helped out your fellow man. And that’s what Obamacare is about, for me.”


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

21 Things Republicans Have Demanded In Exchange For Not Shutting Down The Government Or Tanking The Global Economy

boehner

BY JUDD LEGUM ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

Since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, they have repeatedly attempted to use the prospect of a government shutdown or a debt default as leverage. A shutdown would furlough close to a million federal workers and cut off essential services for millions more Americans, while a default on U.S. debt, even according to Speaker John Boehner, could devastate the global economy. While the recent debate has focused on Obamacare, that is just the latest in a series of demands made by Republicans. The following is a list of things that have been, at various times, demanded by Republicans under threat of a government shutdown or default:

1. A balanced budget amendment [Link]

2. Approving Keystone XL [Link]

3. Eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood [Link]

4. Medicare privatization [Link]

5. Tax reform, as outlined by Paul Ryan [Link]

6. The REINS Act, which would require Congress to approve significant federal regulations [Link]

7. Means-testing Social Security [Link]

8. Defunding Obamacare [Link]

9. Allowing employers to eliminate insurance coverage for birth control [Link]

10. An expansion of off-shore drilling [Link]

11. Preserving all the Bush tax cuts [Link]

12. “Trillions” in budget cuts [Link]

13. Slashing funding for food stamps [Link]

14. Protecting mountaintop strip mining [Link]

15. Stripping the EPA of authority to regulate greenhouse gases [Link]

16. Loosening regulation on coal ash [Link]

17. Delaying Obamacare implementation by one year [Link]

18. Repealing a tax on medical devices [Link]

19. Eliminating Social Service Block Grants [Link]

20. Expanding drilling on federal lands [Link]

21. Restricting the child tax credit [Link]

In just over 2 years, Republicans have been successful in extracting around $1.7 trillion in budget cuts or 72% of the total deficit reduction over that period. Under President Bush the government never shut down and the debt limit was raised five times with bipartisan support and without conditions.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.