Good governance means compromise and working across the aisle for the common good. An essential governance responsibility in Congress is to pass the budgets that keep the nation operating and our economy churning. The financial stability of Idahoans is now at risk because House Republicans are refusing to make the compromises necessary to avoid a government shutdown. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
As the crisis reaches a fever pitch and we approach the September 30 deadline, House Republicans have become increasingly vocal about the dire situation. Speaker Kevin McCarthy bemoaned the extreme members of his party who “just want to burn the place down.” Nevertheless, he continues to appease these members and their ludicrous demands rather than collaborate with Democrats. Idaho’s own GOP Congressman Mike Simpson summed it up, “We’ve been seeing this coming … I just didn’t think we were dumb enough to get there.”
The theatrics are an unfortunate distraction from the real story: a government shutdown would cause severe hardship for Idahoans.
It would force our troops to work without pay. In Idaho, 3,500 active-duty service members wouldn’t receive their paychecks, risking their ability to pay bills and put food on the table. And hundreds of thousands of civil servants at the Department of Defense would be furloughed, affecting our ability to manage national security risks.
Nearly half of the babies born in the U.S. are served by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. A federal contingency fund for WIC would only last a few days and many states have limited funds to keep the program running. In Idaho, the GOP shutdown would put 17,607 children, 6,441 infants, and 6,718 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers at risk of losing access to food.
Idaho’s 268 TSA officers and 39 air traffic controllers would also be asked to do their critical work without pay until budget agreements are made. Previous shutdowns saw significant delays and longer wait times for travelers. A shutdown would also halt air traffic controller training, potentially causing long-term disruptions.
These examples only scratch the surface of the potential damage. To play games with Americans’ livelihoods is unacceptable. We see this brand of recklessness at the Idaho Statehouse as well. A majority of House Republicans vote against critical budget bills — like the one that funds Medicaid — to run up their “scorecards” with far-right special interests. It’s often up to Idaho’s Democrats to deliver the votes that keep our state running.
When one political party is willing to hold the economy hostage we are in trouble. It’s critical that we elect serious public servants who will do the people’s work.
Idaho Democratic Party Chair