Brown Calls On Republican-Controlled Congress Not To Shut Government Down

Senator Supporting Short-Term Extension to Keep Government Open, Keep Both Sides Working to Strike Long-Term Solution; If Republicans Force Shutdown, Will be First Full Government Shutdown with One Party Controlling Congress and the White House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is calling on Republican leaders – who control both houses of Congress and the White House – not to shut down the government. Brown is urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to keep the government open by passing a short-term continuing resolution for a few days, so both sides can stay at the table and continue working to reach a bipartisan deal. Senate Republicans have also called for a short-term bill to allow negotiations to continue (here).

If the Republican Leader forces the government to shut down by refusing to negotiate, it will be the first time the government experiences a full shutdown and furlough of federal workers with one party controlling the White House and Congress.   

The latest one-month bill proposed by House Republicans is the fourth stop-gap spending measure Republicans have proposed since September – creating dangerous uncertainty for the military, the economy and Ohio families. Brown says it’s critical both sides stay at the table and keep working for a long-term deal so Ohioans don’t have to endure the same uncertainty again a month from now. 

“We have the opportunity to reach a bipartisan deal, and we owe it to the people we work for to keep working until we get the job done,” said Brown. “The uncertainty created by Republican leadership in Washington is hurting Ohio businesses, jeopardizing our military readiness, and forcing too many families to live in fear – whether it’s fear their children will lose health insurance, fear the retirement they worked for will be taken away, or fear they will be ripped away from the only home they’ve ever known – enough is enough. Leader McConnell must keep the government open and allow us to pass a solution that gives Ohio businesses, military installations and families the certainty they deserve.”

Brown, who has been imploring Republican leaders for months to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), criticized Republican leaders for using Ohio kids as political leverage. He plans to move to take up and pass a CHIP bill with no strings attached immediately.

“These are not bargaining chips, they are 209,000 Ohio kids who are depending on us to do our jobs. Republican leaders must stop holding CHIP hostage to their failed budget process and allow a vote to extend children’s healthcare immediately,” said Brown.

Brown introduced a bipartisan, five-year CHIP extension in September 2017 and passed it out of the Finance Committee in October. He has repeatedly called on Republican leaders to take it up and pass it since then and Republican leaders have refused time and time again. 

This is unprecedented. Never has there been a full government shutdown while the White House and Congress were controlled by a single party.

  • “Never before has the government experienced a furlough of federal employees when a single party controls both the White House and Congress,” but that’s what will happen after midnight Friday if a spending bill fails to pass Congress. (Source: Washington Post)
  • “If the government shuts down this weekend — or, indeed, at any point until the midterm elections — it will be the first time a true, honest-to-God shutdown has happened with a single party controlling the White House and Congress.” (Source: Vox)

Republicans have been in control of the White House, the House and the Senate for a year, and have failed to produce a long-term plan to fund the government and provide certainty to the economy, the military and American families.

  • The continuing resolution (CR) proposed by House Republicans is the fourth stop-gap measure before Congress since September.
    • Sept. 7, 2017: Congress passed stopgap bill to fund government through Dec. 8, 2017.
    • Dec. 7, 2017: Congress averts a shutdown with a two-week spending bill. 
    • Dec. 21, 2017: Congress passed stopgap bill to fund government through Jan. 19, 2018.
      • At the time a Republican House member from Florida said: “three-week CR just basically shows we can’t do appropriations, we can’t take care of our constituents back home,” Another one of his Republican colleagues from Alabama said he was “bitterly disappointed.” (Source: Washington Post)
  • “While Democrats criticized Republicans for failing to do what was necessary to win their support to keep the government open — a responsibility that has historically fallen to the party in charge —even some Republicans acknowledged there had been a profound breakdown in how Washington is run.” (Source: Washington Post)
    • White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short: “What’s missing in this conversation is the complete dysfunction of Congress and its inability to actually complete an appropriations process.”
  • Top officials in the U.S. Military have warned that another short-term funding measure impacts military readiness.
    • White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short: “Here we are in mid-January with four continual CR's. It is no way to govern. It’s incredibly dysfunctional. And it actually hurts our military. Secretary Mattis will tell you the continued push for continuing resolutions means that he is basically reinvesting in faltering equipment as opposed to investing in new equipment. That hurts our military. It hurts our troops. It's no way to run the government.”
    • Air Force Under Secretary Matthew Donovan: “What we’re really concerned about is, the further along you go into the fiscal year with these short-term CRs, the more likely a full-year CR becomes, and that’s not a good thing for us. It will have damaging impacts on readiness and modernization.

American families are living in fear because of the uncertainty caused by Republicans in Washington who refuse to address top priorities for Americans, including:

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Director of the Alabama CHIP Program: “The biggest one is stress to families — just not knowing, just not having any confidence in the ability to keep their child enrolled in health insurance…Trying to run a program, balance your budget, manage your staff, and all of these type things without any certainty of funding, it becomes very, very difficult.”

  • Community Health Centers in need of funding.

National Association of Community Health Centers Statement“Health centers and their patients are facing considerable damage with each passing day while this matter remains unresolved. Centers are being forced to execute contingency plans resulting in staff lay-offs and site closures, and are scaling back critical services including prenatal care, dental services and opioid treatment programs. If not resolved soon, this funding cliff will result in a loss of care to approximately 9 million patients, closure of over 2,500 care delivery sites, and a loss of over 50,000 jobs.”

  • Disaster aid. 

Spokeswoman to Texas Governor on needed Harvey aid: “Yet every day that goes by without funding is another day that Texans who have been upended by Hurricane Harvey go without the resources needed to rebuild their lives.”

  • Protecting Dreamers.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham (SC): “I don't want to put these kids through any more hell. I don't want to wait until March 4. I want to go ahead and get it done now. We should have done it years ago.”

  • Failing pension plans.

Akron Beacon Journal: “Retired Teamsters around the nation who are facing dramatic cuts to their monthly pensions are keeping their fingers crossed that proposed federal legislation will keep them from financial ruin.”

Kentucky Public Radio: “Some 43,000 retired miners in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia depend on a pension plan that the union argues could be at risk without Congressional action.”