The 198-232 loss that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy suffered on his way to an eventual government shutdown came as a surprise purely by its margin. Most estimates put the opposition among hard-line Republicans at about 10 votes—not 21. What is surprising is that all of those 21 Republicans are either Freedom Caucus members or allied extremists.
That means every supposed moderate Republican—including those in the 18 districts that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020—voted for legislation that cuts about 30% from almost every domestic spending program: housing subsidies; nutrition assistance for pregnant women and mothers with young children; home heating and cooling assistance for low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes; Head Start programs; medical research; federal law enforcement; toxic waste site monitoring and cleanup; and Social Security Administration offices, among so many more.
They voted for cuts that would, if passed, harm their constituents. They rubber-stamped McCarthy’s decision to pursue this futile course of action, a delay that is sure to shut down the government and furlough hundreds of thousands of government workers.
About those workers: According to the Congressional Research Service, those “Biden 18” Republicans collectively represent approximately 140,000 federal civilian employees, many of whom aren’t going to be getting paychecks next month.
That includes around 7,465 people in Rep. Brandon Williams’ New York district. He’s the guy who recently told a caller on C-SPAN that while the pain that federal workers will suffer is “real,” furloughed employees shouldn’t expect “a huge amount of sympathy.” Some of those furloughed people in Williams’ district might want to hit the former investment banker up for help with their grocery bills next week.
If you want to talk sympathy, here’s Willie Jo Price, who has worked on Capitol Hill for more than 40 years. But she doesn’t want sympathy: She wants a paycheck. And her story will be a hell of a lot more compelling to the American public than Williams’.
What Price doesn’t explain in that video snippet is that she is still trying to recover financially from the previous shutdown, which happened about five years ago. That’s because she’s not employed directly by Congress, but works for a contractor: If and when she gets her job back, she won’t get back pay for the time she’s out of work, unless Congress passes legislation to fix that. Last time, in 2019, Democratic Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota tried to get that back pay for them, but her bill didn’t make it out of committee.
During past shutdowns, Price said that she made choices between “life” bills—rent and food—and “personal” bills like credit card payments. “I will sleep in the dark, as long as I have a roof over my head,” Price said. “I’m going to make sure I pay the mortgage, the rent. The lights could be cut off, the water could be cut off. Whatever.”
Sign and send the petition: Pass a clean funding bill. No GOP hostage taking.