UPDATE: Government shutdown averted
U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., issued the following statement after voting early this morning on a new federal budget, averting a looming government shutdown:
“I am pleased that congressional leaders reached an agreement, which averts a government shutdown and makes record spending cuts to the federal budget.
"We have a lot more work to do, but this is an important first step in cutting excessive government spending and ensuring our nation’s future economic strength."
U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, distributed this letter today, April 8, to the consituents of California's 45th congressonal district, which includes Murrieta, about the possible federal government shutdown at midnight tonight. This letter is posted in its entirety, as sent from the congresswoman's press office, and includes federal departments and services that could be affected. Murrieta Patch remains neutral on political issues.
Washington, Apr 8 -
Good afternoon. With so much talk in the news the past few days about a possible federal government shutdown over the budget, I would like to take this time to give you an update on what’s happening here in Washington and how a shutdown might impact government services.
I sincerely hope that we can avoid a government shutdown – and I have been working hard to avoid it – but as the hours go by that’s looking more and more unlikely. The Continuing Resolution to fund our government, known as a CR, expires tonight at midnight. That’s the witching hour that we have been trying desperately to avoid.
If the CR expires, I will remain here in Washington, strongly encouraging the budget negotiators to keep working throughout the weekend – around the clock, if necessary – to try and reach a compromise so important government services are not impacted.
If that fails, and the government is shut down, I have decided to forfeit my pay during this time and will donate it to military families who have had loved ones killed or injured during active duty.
Here are some other things that we know now. Most importantly:
• Americans will still receive Medicare benefits.
• Social Security payments will continue as normal.
• Veterans health services, benefits payments and cemetery services will not be affected.
• Federal workers deemed non-essential will be furloughed and told to stay at home. That’s approximately 800,000 people nationwide.
• Most of the Department of Homeland Security will remain open, including TSA, Customs and Border Protection, Secret Service, Coast Guard, FEMA and Immigration Customs Enforcement. Air traffic controllers will also stay on the job.
• The tax deadline will not change, but the IRS will be slowed down and refunds could be impacted unless you file electronically.
• The Federal Housing Administration will be suspended.
• The Post Office is self-funded and, as such, will stay open.
• School Lunch Programs have already received their funding for the year so there shouldn’t be any problems there.
• The Department of Defense will continue to conduct activities in support of our national security, including operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Japan.
• Most USDA activities would be shut down or significantly reduced.
• Passport processing will be suspended.
• All National Parks will be closed.
Why have we reached this point? First, the Democrats who controlled Congress last year did not pass a budget because of election-year politics. But, most importantly, there is a fundamental difference between the two parties when it comes to the size and scope of government.
Today, my thinking is guided by one undeniable fact: the growth of our national debt is unsustainable. Simply put, we’re going broke. By 2040, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office – known as CBO – estimates that interest on the national debt, as well as entitlement spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, will surpass all federal revenues. Every single penny of it. There would be nothing for national security, homeland security, education, environmental protection and all of the other vital services that we expect and need as nation. That’s why I believe we should be making deep spending cuts to non-essential programs – right now – to prevent that kind financial catastrophe in the future. Republicans have cut this year’s budget by $61 billion but Democrats are throwing up roadblocks.
Today, our national debt is growing by a staggering $4 billion a day. I believe that it’s simply irresponsible to keep borrowing money for programs that we can no longer afford as a nation – no matter how well intentioned. So that’s what this budget fight is all about. Tough times require tough choices. But borrowing 40 cents out of every one dollar that the federal government now spends – much of it coming from the Chinese – should not be a choice anyone accepts any longer.
Like every California family, it’s time for Washington to decide “what we need” as opposed to “what we want.” This debate is long overdue but will leave us better off as a nation in the future. We have an obligation – especially to our children – to get our nation’s financial house in order and give them their own chance at prosperity. After all, as parents, isn’t that what we really want? A better world for our kids?
I also want to clarify one other thing. The budget fight in Washington right now is over funding for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends in September. The battle over the 2012 budget hasn’t even started yet in earnest.
This week, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released a 10-year blueprint designed to reduce our staggering national debt and cut out-of-control federal spending, while at the same time shoring up Social Security and Medicare. I am still reviewing the proposal and – despite what you may hear from people trying to stir up a controversy – I have not taken a position on it.
But I have applauded Chairman Ryan’s political courage for beginning a much-needed debate over serious ways – some controversial and some painful – to end runaway deficits and ensure prosperity for future generations of Americans. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road. As I learn more about these new proposals, I will keep you informed and seek your guidance.
So, against this challenging backdrop, we find ourselves now on the brink of a government shutdown.
Clearly, we are at an important crossroads in America’s history. From the state of the U.S. economy to what’s happening in the Middle East to the debt crisis in Washington, there are many serious and complex issues facing our nation. Over the past several months, I have heard from many of you on these very important matters. Always remember that your thoughtful and ongoing input is an important part of my decision making process. Please continue to let me know what you are thinking – especially during this defining time in our nation’s history.