As I write this week’s newsletter, the government is in the midst of partial shutdown, caused by a temporary lapse in appropriations, due to the unwillingness of Senate leadership to talk with House leaders to discuss their differences and to reach agreement on how to fully reopen our government.
The House has acted on several occasions over the last week to keep the government open. We have acted, in good faith, to protect the American people from an unworkable federal law – ObamaCare – but the Senate has refused to even consider the most moderate reform proposals, which include a one-year delay in implementation of the law’s individual mandate. The Obama Administration has granted numerous exemptions to its friends and big corporations. Republicans believe in fairness for all. If big business and special interests do not have to comply with this onerous law, then everyday hardworking American citizens should not have to either.
House Republicans will continue efforts to reopen the government and to make sure no one gets special treatment under ObamaCare. It is up to Senate Democrats to put an end to special treatment by coming to the table and talking. A policy of slamming the door, locking it, and throwing away the key is no way to negotiate an end to this partial shutdown of our government.
World War II veterans, who gave so much to this country, could have been an unacceptable casualty of the temporary lapse in appropriations. Administration officials decided to barricade access to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. Many Missouri veterans who had arrived in the Nation’s Capital on an Honor Flight were greeted by these barriers which had been put in place to keep the public out of our national memorials and monuments. It was an honor to meet with our veterans at their Memorial and to assist them as they removed the barricades. I have long supported the mission of the Honor Flight program and was truly humbled to have played a small part in helping these heroes to bypass the Washington political theater and visit their memorial.
Since our visit, the President has changed his policy and announced that the memorial will open to veterans groups but will remain barricaded to the American public. This is still unacceptable. All Americans should have access to these outdoor venues. It is time for the President to stop these theatrics and come to the table to end this shutdown.
Finally, the House approved the Pay Our Military Act to ensure that all members of our Armed Forces, including the Guard and Reserves, as well as Department of Defense civilian personnel continue to be paid during the current government shutdown. The Pay Our Military Act was passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President. The legislation appropriates funds to pay members of our Armed Forces as well as to Department of Defense civilians whom the Secretary of Defense determines are providing support to members of the Armed Forces.
Despite being granted this broad authority to determine all civilians are providing support to the Armed Forces, the Department of Defense has so far chosen to furlough non-excepted employees. This is not acceptable.
I joined several of my House colleagues in sending a letter to the Secretary of Defense to draw attention to this concern. The letter states: “While the President has ensured military members will continue to be paid during this government shutdown, we are disheartened that the Administration chose to needlessly furlough workers against the intent of Congress. The language outlined in H.R.3210 purposefully exempts Department of Defense employees supporting the Armed Forces. Since all DoD civilian employees serve to support the uniformed services, all of these civilian employees should be returned to work without further delay.”
Since the President chose to not pay certain members of the military, the House approved the Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act. The legislation explicitly provides funding for the pay and allowances of military personnel in the Reserve component who are on inactive status. Clearly, Congress has stated the intent of the law is to ensure we provide for the common defense and to keep faith with our military and defense civilians even during this lapse of appropriations.
As the partial shutdown goes on, I remain committed to serving the needs and wishes of Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District by continuing efforts to fund the government while making sure no one gets special treatment under ObamaCare.
As always, I welcome your thoughts on this and all issues.
Have a great week.