Rigell Urges Washington:
Reopen the GovernmentWritten by
Kim Mosser Knapp
The government shutdown is unquestionably hurting families in Hampton Roads – particularly those who were furloughed because of the sequester earlier this year. I wanted to provide you with a brief report on Congressman Rigell’s efforts in recent weeks to prevent a government shutdown and reopen the government.
Preventing the Shutdown
Congressman Rigell has been a strong advocate for Congress returning to sane budgeting, or what’s called “Regular Order” – meaning Congress should pass a budget and all 12 appropriation bills each year in order to fund the government. (Read about the appropriations process here.)
Unfortunately, Washington has been relying on budgeting gimmicks called Continuing Resolutions (CRs) to fund our government year after year. CRs are mindless mechanisms that just continue the prior year’s funding levels without regard for the actual needs of the nation. On September 20, Congressman Rigell voted AGAINST a CR that failed to address the defense sequester or put the country back on a path to fiscal responsibility. At that point, Washington still had 11 days to work through appropriations bills before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.
As you know, since that vote Congress and the White House failed to agree upon a plan to properly fund the government. As it became apparent there would be no agreement before October 1, Congressman Rigell voted to pass a spending bill that would keep the government open and delay parts of the Affordable Care Act, of which he has been a strong opponent. The Senate rejected this offer. The House and Senate went back and forth several times before midnight on October 1, each time the House making additional concessions in an effort to reach an agreement. Each time the Senate rejected these offers.
You know what happened next: the federal government shut down. More than 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, government contractors were sent home, and we saw government services across the country shutter – including our national parks and wildlife refuges, which is having a direct and serious impact on the economy of our Eastern Shore. The pain is still being felt as I write this today.
Reopening the Government
Congressman Rigell was among the first in his party to call for the consideration of what is known as a “clean CR,” meaning a funding bill to reopen the government with no strings attached. That has been met with resistance in the House but Congressman Rigell is actively pursuing options that both parties can agree upon to reopen the federal government.
Congressman Rigell is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 3223, the Retroactive Pay for Federal Employees Act, which the House passed Saturday morning. The bill provides authority for retroactive pay to federal employees furloughed as a result of the government shutdown. He also supported efforts to pay the military during the shutdown with passage of H.R. 3210 – the Pay Our Military Act.
Congressman Rigell also called on Defense Secretary Hagel to apply H.R. 3210 to civilian personnel and contractors of the Department of Defense, noting their work is critical to protecting the country and supporting the military. And Congressman Rigell voted to ensure the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has all the resources it needs to address the claims backlog and pay benefits on time.
Though these actions will help ease the burden felt in our district, the impacts of a long-term shutdown on our military, national security, and economy are dangerous. Congressman Rigell knows that the real solution is to reopen the government and get people back to work.
You will hear from Congressman Rigell directly in the days ahead. Please stay tuned to your email, and our Facebook and Twitter feeds for an announcement about a telephone townhall. I also encourage you to click through some of the links below to hear his message about reopening the government. As always, our staff is available to speak with you and address your comments and concerns. We welcome your questions. Our contact information is below:
Virginia Beach, VA – 757-687-8290
Eastern Shore, VA – 757- 789-5172
Washington, D.C. – 202-225-4215
Kim Mosser Knapp
PS: Congressman Rigell is donating the salary he receives during the shutdown to the Wounded Warrior Project. As you may know, he already gives back 15% of his salary to pay down the national debt and supports the No Budget, No Pay Act which says Members shouldn't be paid without passing a budget and all 12 Appropriation bills.