House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks with reporters in the U.S. Capitol on September 27, 2023.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Progressives Say GOP Shutdown Chaos Is About Imposing 'Extreme, Cruel' Agenda

"It's the same thing they did with the debt ceiling: Weaponize the tools of the House majority to force a false choice. Their agenda or a national crisis," said the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

With a "completely avoidable" U.S. government shutdown less than 48 hours away, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and individual House Democrats on Friday took aim at Republicans for holding "the American people hostage to force their agenda through" at the expense of working families and others.

"You wouldn't know it by watching them fail to govern, but House Republicans have a policy agenda. It's extreme, cruel, and unworkable, and they are committed to making that agenda law," the Progressive Caucus said on social media. "Here's the problem: They can't pass it. They can't even get all their members to vote for it."

That's because the Republican continuing resolution (CR) that was voted down 232-198 on Friday—which included big cuts to social safety net spending and anti-migrant measures—was not severe enough for members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus' liking.

"So House Republicans' only option is to hold the government and the American people hostage to force their agenda through," the Progressive Caucus continued. "It's the same thing they did with the debt ceiling: Weaponize the tools of the House majority to force a false choice. Their agenda or a national crisis."

According to the Progressive Caucus, that agenda includes:

  • An 80% cut in public education funding to take 40,000 teachers from poor students and students with disabilities and kick 100,000 kids out of preschool;
  • A 70% cut in funding for 5 million low-income families to heat their homes;
  • Slashing food assistance for millions of low-income women and children;
  • Cutting support services for nearly 1 million people facing a suicidal or mental health crisis and thousands with opioid use disorder;
  • Eliminating one-third of all housing choice voucher funding for poor families, increasing the risk of eviction and homelessness;
  • Increasing the wait time for Social Security disability benefits applicants by two months;
  • Making fruits and vegetables more expensive for 5 million pregnant mothers; and
  • Cutting nearly 50% of federal wildfire prevention funds.

"House Republicans are pushing all these cruel cuts AND a death panel for Social Security and Medicare. If they don't get it, they'll shut down the government," the Progressive Caucus added. "This is why progressives are fighting so hard. We will not sacrifice working people to continual Republican threats."

Progressive Caucus Deputy Chair Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said Friday that "this shutdown is not only tragic, but completely avoidable."

"An overwhelming bipartisan majority of lawmakers in the House support a clean bill to keep the government open. The Senate is prepared to pass it, the president is prepared to sign it," she continued. "But the most extreme faction of MAGA wing of the party—egged on by [former President] Donald Trump, who craves a distraction from his indictments and criminal charges—are demanding an endless list of cuts that have brought us to a government shutdown."

"We have to remember how we got here. The government has shutdown four times in the past 30 years. Each time it happened, an extreme faction of Republicans was in charge of the House of Representatives," Omar added. "We need a clean bill to keep the government open, before this causes real harm. It's time for Republicans to stop playing with people's lives and do their jobs."

Another Progressive Caucus member, Rep. Delia Ramirez, said Friday that "today's hurtful, extremist Republican CR demonstrates the Republicans' hypocrisy, ineffective leadership, and disregard for working families."

The congresswoman continued:

Day after day, we have been here, voting until the wee hours of the morning, and we have made absolutely no progress. After each vote, conservative extremists change their demands, and [House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif)] keeps giving them more and more without making progress.

"To what end? A 30% cut to government services? So that 10,901 women and children in the IL-03 can go hungry? So that 28,187 active and reserved service members will go without payment in Illinois? So that 5,000 residents in IL-03 may lose access to federal help and vouchers?

"These are not the goals of people who care about working families," Ramirez asserted. "On the contrary, it's a vicious attack on working families"

"If the Republicans were serious about averting a shutdown, they would bring a clean CR to the floor," she argued. "That's not what they want. They want to send our economy into crisis, protect Donald Trump, and harm our communities."

"Enough is enough!" Ramirez added. " I call on six courageous, principled Republicans to do their job, serve our constituents, and protect the economy."

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