"NO" Vote on H.J. Res. 59
Today I voted against H.J. Res. 59 , the continuing resolution that would fund government operations through December 15, 2013, but maintain the sequester that is impacting tens of thousands in El Paso and defunds the Affordable Care Act (ACA), creating havoc for our health care system and Medicare in particular. I believe that this bill is an abdication of our responsibility as lawmakers and brings us closer to a government shut-down. I could not vote for it.
I support a “clean” continuing resolution that will keep the government funded at current levels for a short period of time while we work on a longer-term spending plan that gets our finances in order and responsibly replaces the sequester, including the furloughs at Fort Bliss at other federal agencies, with common sense budget cuts.
Current appropriations run out when the new fiscal year begins on October 1st. We need a funding measure that can pass both the House and the Senate and be signed into law by the President before next weekend. Failure to do so puts our economy in jeopardy and threatens basic government functions such as VA care and border security.
I could not vote for legislation that makes keeping our government open contingent upon overturning the ACA. There is a better way to improve the ACA without jeopardizing our economic security and the livelihoods of millions of people should a government shut-down occur. The legislation also does nothing to overturn the sequester, which has resulted in furloughs at Fort Bliss and deep cuts to everything from Head Start to transportation projects.
Defunding the ACA would harm tens of millions of Americans. Medicare would be prohibited from paying providers at rates established by the ACA, creating delays and chaos while an alternative payment plan is established. The government would be unable to pay for Medicare Advantage plans at all as there is not another payment plan in place other than that established by the ACA. Because the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides coverage to 11 million children, was funded by the ACA defunding the law would effectively eliminate CHIP.
Rather than taking the radical approach of de-funding the ACA, Congress should be working constructively to improve it instead of playing to the political extremes and promising full repeal or holding the economy hostage by threatening a government shut-down.
In 2011 such brinksmanship had very real consequences for our economy. The U.S. experienced its first credit downgrade in our country’s history, the stock market plummeted 17%, and businesses stopped hiring which led to one of the lowest job growth months since 2008. Business leaders have warned that a government shut-down would hurt their ability to hire more workers and have a negative impact on our economy.
I stand ready to work with members of both political parties to do the responsible thing and keep the government running. I am hopeful that the Senate will pass a short-term funding bill that is free of poison pills and send it back to the House for consideration.