CBC Chair: Govt. Shutdown Will Hurt Black Households

CBC Chair: Govt. Shutdown Will Hurt Black Households

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WASHINGTON, D.C—As Congress releases furlough notices to millions of government employees, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II says a shutdown of the government will be a lose-lose situation.

Cleaver called it "a distraction from the real issues — responsibly reducing the deficit and balancing the budget. It is also a waste of time, and even Speaker Boehner has admitted that a government shutdown will actually cost more than it saves. Most importantly, it affects the very people we were sent here to serve and protect. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are the primary bread winners in their homes — many of whom are disproportionately in CBC Member districts — will be gravely impacted by a shutdown."

“Chances are that we may come up with a small resolution to avoid a shutdown of the government for four or five days,” Cleaver said. “I don’t believe that we are going to get a budget done by the deadline. The sides are too far apart. But, the proposed cuts and even a shutdown of the government affects the CBC constituents more than any other group because blacks tend to have government jobs."

“In my district, there are about 100,000 government jobs, and about 25 percent of those employees are African-American," said Cleaver. "These proposed budget cuts and a government shutdown would wound African-American communities across this country.”

There is a $7 billion gap between what the Democrats are willing to sacrifice and what the Republicans are demanding to be cut from the 2011 budget. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he may seek as much as $40 billion in cuts, $7 billion more than Democrats expected.

The stalemate, political in nature, centers around the dozens of GOP policy "riders" attached to their budget that do everything from blocking money to implement Obama's health care bill and effectively stripping the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing rules on global warming, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and lakes in Florida to limiting enforcement of last year's financial reform bill and cutting taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood.

“It is clear the Republican leadership’s budget definitely charts a different course. Claiming that their reckless and draconian cuts will benefit our children and grandchildren is preposterous. This budget does not support, protect or uplift hardworking American families, it will significantly harm them,” said Cleaver.

“I believe that budgets are a window into the moral compass of our conscience as a nation — and the compass is off. The Republican leadership’s allegiance remains with the rich and big business at the expense of our seniors and our most vulnerable communities. Recklessly cutting vital programs like job training, education, and health care to millions of hardworking American families is not a roadmap to balancing the budget. It is a road to nowhere,” he said. "It is my hope that the Congressional leadership realizes that in order to prevent a shutdown, compromising is an essential part of the equation. Stop playing politics with the livelihood of the American people.”

The United States federal government shutdown of 1995 and 1996 was the result of a conflict between Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress over funding for Medicare, education, the environment and public health. It took place after Clinton vetoed the spending bill which Congress sent him.

The federal government put non-essential government workers on furlough and suspended non-essential services from Nov. 14 through Nov. 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996. The major players were Clinton and the then-speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich.