We are only a few legislative days away from a government shutdown. I was in Congress to witness the last Republican shutdown of our government, and it had lasting effects on our economy. The 2013 shutdown resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs being created in just two weeks, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and our economy saw a total loss of $24 billion
Yet, in the coming days, you won’t hear a lot from Republicans in Congress about the economic fallout of not renewing the Export-Import Bank or of failing to pass a continuing resolution – let alone a real balanced budget – that will keep the federal government running.
Instead, you’re going to hear a lot about Planned Parenthood, as Sen. Ted Cruz and Republicans in the House try to derail our fiscal process based on their belief that women should not have full access to reproductive care.
In order to deny a woman’s right to reproductive services and to make her own health care decisions, Republicans in Congress are threatening to NOT do their job, which will shut the government down.
In the wake of Kim Davis’s decision to not do her job and ignore the law of the land, denying same sex couples their right to a marriage license, there is a battle cry that has become an internet phenomenon. I’ve seen countless posts from people saying, “I don’t agree with gay marriage, but that doesn’t give me the right to break the law,” or, “I don’t agree with most people buying guns, but guess what? It’s the law and I do my job,” just to name a few.
So as we approach a looming government shutdown, I say this to Republican leadership: You may not agree with or choose to use the preventive and reproductive health services provided by Planned Parenthood, but this is not the time for Congress to shirk its responsibilities to the American people, especially on the backs of countless women who depend on those services. It’s time to step up and do your job – to keep our government funded and running. Keeping our government open for business will keep our country and our economy strong. We can’t muddy that process with petty ideological differences.
We represent the people of this great country, and we must make good on the promise we made to them when we took our oath of office. A new CNN poll said over seven in 10 Americans think it’s more important for Congress to avoid another disastrous shutdown than to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Yet there is no indication that the Republican leadership will bring a bill to the floor to keep the Export-Import Bank functional, and pending legislation that will keep the government up and running.
The impacts of this reckless disregard for the responsibilities we have to the American people are very real. Just this week, General Electric announced that in light of the “political debate over America’s global competitiveness and the future of the Export-Import Bank,” it is shifting 500 manufacturing jobs out of the U.S. [Financial Times, 9/15/15] Defense giant Boeing has lost a second foreign satellite contract based on the failure of the Republican leadership to renew the Ex-Im Bank.
I have the honor of representing Silicon Valley, where we know how vital good-paying, middle class manufacturing jobs are to our country. In Silicon Valley, the capitol of innovation and manufacturing, we have a strong economy, but we still see income inequality. Manufacturing jobs, such as those General Electric jobs that are leaving the country, are vital to ensuring we have a strong middle class and that people can afford to live and raise families in the communities they work in.
So, let’s get to work. It’s time for us to come together and make good, sound decisions that will keep our economy strong. In this country, every person has a right to his or her opinion and to free speech. But we cannot avoid our responsibility to keep the government solvent, or hold millions of federal workers hostage, because the Republican leadership wants to deny women access to comprehensive health care.
I call on my Republican colleagues to put partisan bickering aside and do what’s right for the United States of America. Stop pulling a Kim Davis and do your job – the one you were sent to Washington to do.
Mike Honda is a Democratic member of Congress representing California’s 17th District, which includes Silicon Valley.