- Written by Rosemary Jenkins
24 Sep 2013
HOW SO CAL REPS VOTED-Congress is playing with us again. What transpired between 1995 and 1996 is looming over us once more. We were at the brink in 2011. What will happen now?
Last Friday, the House voted (mostly along party lines) on House Joint Continuing Resolution 59—2014 on the Appropriations Budget. The vote was 230 to 189. Among our California delegation, Cong. Tony Cárdenas (the first Latino Congressmember from the San Fernando Valley) voted NO as well as Congressmembers Bass, Becerra, Brownley, Chu, Grace Napolitano, Schiff, Sherman, and Waxman from our greater Los Angeles region. Hurray for them! In fact, every Democrat from California voted No on this resolution!
The right wing, and every California Republican, voted to shut down government if the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) were not defunded. The bill has been sent to the Senate to act on it this week. It is likely we shall see several filibusters before cloture is reached and then the Senate will vote and send the bill back to the House for a final vote. The Senate acts only on the House version; it does not have a version of its own to reconcile. The Senate will want to strip the bill of the amendment which would defund the ACA.
What the House will do if it receives such an amended version is anyone’s guess at this time. House Speaker Boehner may invoke the Hastert Rule which “requires” a majority of the majority of Republicans to commit to defund the ACA (Obamacare) before a vote of the House is taken at all. Not even the most knowledgeable and experienced politicos can offer a reasonable prognostication as to how this bill will be resolved.
What we can say at this time, however, is what will happen across the country and to Los Angeles, in particular, should there be a government shutdown. According to the Congressional Research Report, which is basing much of its findings on historical precedent from 1995-96 and 2011, the following can and/or will transpire:
1. Because there will be government furloughs of thousands of federal employees [with the exception of Congressmembers and the Judiciary (the Supreme Court and other high-level justices)], programs which may not be defunded will still be affected because there will be no workers to receive and/or process claims. People on Social Security may not receive their monthly checks. People newly applying for Social Security and/or Medicare will be unable to do so. People who need to change their address to receive checks in a timely manner will not be able to do so. People who have claims to be filed will not be able to do so.
Furthermore, when people are furloughed, they cannot spend; when they cannot spend, clerks at stores, laborers at manufacturing plants, and so forth can and probably will be laid off indefinitely. The economy will be so drastically turned on its head that the world marketplace will be dramatically affected as well. Are we going to see those 401(k’s) and stock shares plunge in value again?
2. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control will not be able to carry out their work. This can affect people currently involved in ongoing clinical studies, and should there be an outbreak of a disease or a finding of contaminated foods or drugs, there will be no way to proceed to ameliorate the circumstances. Hotlines to these two agencies will not be answered.
3. There will be unseemly delays in law enforcement and public safety issues. This will also affect border patrol agents and child-care delinquency issues.
4. Access to Parks, Museums, and Public Monuments will be curtailed. This will affect tourism business and maintenance and security of these sites.
5. There will be major delays in processing VISA and Passport applications.
6. American Veterans will find that their very important services will be given short-shrift. This is particularly alarming to think that we would even consider hurting the people that have served our country so selflessly and are now, in so many ways, going to be hurt themselves by the very nation to which they have long and unwaveringly pledged their allegiance.
7. Federal Contractors will be adversely affected, thus delaying development and completion of projects. New technological standards will not be issued and/or enforced.
What is listed above is only a partial list of how our daily lives could and would be impacted. This is not a complete list but does include the most significant actions that will transpire if we do not settle on a reasonable resolution to this funding impasse.
What we can and must do now is to contact our individual House representatives (if you do not know their names, you can easily go to www.house.gov/representatives/find in order to acquire that information) and our two U.S. Senators, Feinstein and Boxer. Let them know how we want them to vote.
It is absolutely imperative that we do not give in or in any way compromise on continued funding for the Affordable Healthcare Act. We have come too far.
The program has already been partially implemented: no caps on health care costs; children covered on parents’ policies to the age of 26; no pre-existing health exclusions; portability of health care benefit packages (see my previous Citywatchla.com article on this subject: “Healthcare: Damn Right We’re Entitled!” We want the rest of the program implemented beginning in January 2014 so that millions of us who have not been covered by health insurance will be covered now.
Let us stand and be counted. We can’t leave it up to the nay-sayers nor the right-wing to speak for us! It is we who should speak on behalf of the community. Let our voices be heard now and not after the congressional vote is tabulated—when it might be too late!
(Rosemary Jenkins is a Democratic activist and chair of the Northeast Valley Green Coalition. She also writes for CityWatch.)
Vol 11 Issue 77
Pub: Sept 24, 2013