Letter: Congress must act responsibly

Once again, right-wing lawmakers in Congress have shown how disconnected they are from the needs of people in Tulare County. From forcing our nation into a federal government shutdown, engaging in futile votes to defund the Affordable Care Act, and approaching the debt ceiling deadline that’s just a week away, right-wing lawmakers are lurching from one manufactured crisis after another instead of addressing the issues ordinary people care about such as jobs, access to vital services and an economy that works for all.

Make no mistake, the sole responsibility for any potential shutdown rests with House of Representatives leadership beholden to the radical right-wing, who insist on trying to take away healthcare for millions, slash retirement benefits, and more. This is the same recklessness from Congress that gave us the Sequester, which has cost jobs and halted our nation’s economy.

Compounding the Sequester and making matters even worse is the federal government shutdown. Since October 1st, thousands of Americans have been furloughed, subjected to pay cuts and dropped from federal unemployment benefits. Millions of others have been hurt by aimless cuts to vital services, including
Head Start, education, healthcare, food and nutrition programs, mental health services, child care, public housing and special education.

If the House’s proposed funding levels were enacted in 2014, $1.8 billion would be cut from Head Start, costing roughly 240,000 children access to early childhood education services. The impact of these cuts will only get worse if the House continues to pass piecemeal spending bills that keep select parts of the government open. It’s time for the House to end the era of irresponsible budget cutting and work to pass a clean compromise continuing resolution.

Responsible leaders in both parties must stand up to this nonsense and return to an era of responsible governing – passing a responsible budget, asking those who can afford it to pay their fair share, giving Americans access to the vital services they need to support their families and children’s future, and passing a clean debt ceiling increase. Americans and people in Tulare County want to get back to work in good jobs that can support their families.

Teneya Johnson
Visalia, CA

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