We need to re-open the government. It is that simple. This is ridiculous. I don't know how to make my position any more clear, and I have been working, negotiating, meeting, discussing, and trying, to do just that.
I know many of you are frustrated, angry, and getting more worried by the day. I join you in those emotions. I have directed the Chief Administrative Officer to withhold my pay until federal workers are back on the job where they should be. I figure that is only right and fair.
There have been many piecemeal proposals put forth to restore funding for politically palatable government agencies, while ignoring many others. I stand firmly against this ad hoc form of governance and believe that Congress should perform its constitutional obligation and fund the entire government.
Quite frankly, we should do our jobs.
Until then, I hope to answer any questions you have about how the government shutdown may affect your day-to-day lives. Below are some answers to the most common and pressing issues facing Americans in the wake of a government shutdown.
What government services are be stopped during a shutdown?
During a government shutdown, the government stops all "non-essential" services. All federal employees considered "non-essential" will be sent home without pay. All national parks, monuments and federal wildlife refuges will be closed to the public. Many federal departments and agencies, including NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency will almost entirely close.
What government services will continue?
Services considered essential to the continued protection and public health of our country will continue as normal. These include the armed forces, border protection, air traffic controllers, and police and fire departments. The State Department will continue to process passports and visas and embassies abroad will still provide essential services.
Will Social Security, Veterans, Unemployment or any other federally-funded benefits be affected?
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Unemployment benefits will continue to be distributed as normal and the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to operate at nearly full capacity. Veterans will still receive benefits, have access to hospitals and mental health counseling, and be able to fill prescriptions at VA health clinics.
How about mail delivery?
US Postal Service will continue full mail-delivery as the cost of stamps and other postage covers all delivery costs. While all of these services will continue, many of the federal employees that service these departments continue to work without a guarantee of when they will receive their next paycheck.
All of this is subject to change depending on how long this shutdown goes, but for now, this is where we stand.
What are the policy and economic effects of a shutdown?
Many economists have said that a federal government shutdown is a threat to an already fragile economy. Approximately 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed. In the 5th District of Missouri alone, there are 44,000 federal workers subject to possible furlough, loss of pay or decreased job stability. Furthermore, the shutdown's effects have begun to bleed into other sectors. State and local governments are reporting a decreased ability to function due to loss of federal funding and many private businesses with governmental contracts have begun to furlough workers due to uncertainty about the future. Programs servicing the poor and vulnerable will be stalled, including the Head Start education program and Meals on Wheels. Finally, many of the federal employees that continue to work and provide essential services listed above are doing so without any guarantee of when their next paycheck will come.
So what's the bottom line?
At the end of the day, a government shutdown negatively impacts too many Americans for Congress to allow it to continue. At this point in time, a clean continuing resolution could pass the House of Representatives, the Senate, and be signed into law by President Obama. A small fraction of one branch of the government is holding essential services and functions hostage in exchange for ransom on legislation that has already been passed, implemented and provided life-saving benefits to millions of Americans. I am working daily in a bipartisan manner to reach an agreement that will restore full funding for the federal government in its entirety, but I refuse to go along with plan that takes away health benefits or funds just a few parts of the government. My offices in the Fifth District of Missouri and in Washington, D.C. are continuing to operate fully and I encourage you to contact any one of my offices with your questions or concerns.