In light of the looming government shutdown, civil rights groups are urging the House of Representatives to take action today to pass H.J. Res. 59 – the Continuing Appropriations Resolution for fiscal year 2014 – passed by the Senate on Friday, and to oppose any amendments to the current language.
In a letter sent on Friday, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights reluctantly urged representatives to support the bill as passed by the Senate, noting that it would maintain federal spending cuts that jeopardize those communities most in need.
“The damage caused by the sequester has been widespread, and it is continuing to get worse,” according to the letter. “For example, children have lost access to Head Start and other vital educational programs while class sizes have grown; health care programs and food inspection services have been cut back; law enforcement and public safety programs are being starved of vital resources; and badly-needed upgrades to our transportation infrastructure have been put off.” In addition, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that, if the cuts remain, the sequester will cost 1.6 million jobs by the end of FY 2014.
The Senate, though, has shortened the duration of the continuing resolution to November 15, a change that leaves less time for the sequester to continue damaging the economy before funding levels must be revisited. The Senate’s version of the bill also excludes efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act – a move that would trigger a government shutdown and deeply affect low-income families in particular.
Eighty percent of American people are against threatening government shutdown in the process of budget negotiations. Allowing the government to shut down would create a negative domino effect: millions of military service members and civilian personnel would face a delay in pay, and veteran benefits and social security checks would be delayed as well. Business leaders and economists on both sides of the aisle agree that a government shutdown would significantly hurt the national economy. Depending on the duration of the shutdown, it would result in job loss, reduction of economic growth, and weaken oversight of financial markets.
Considering the time sensitive nature of this budget crisis – the current federal budget expires at midnight tonight – the House must take action now to pass the Senate bill and prevent the substantial negative impact a government shutdown will have on the American economy and millions of American families.