As you may know, on December 22, 2018 the 115th Congress and President Trump failed to reach an agreement, causing the federal government to lapse in appropriations and triggering a partial government shutdown. Nine federal government departments and many federal agencies were directly affected by the shutdown, and over 800,000 federal employees -- from air traffic controllers at Bradley Airport to federal correctional officers in Danbury – were furloughed or working without pay. Many of these federal workers were unable to pay their mortgages, childcare, student loans, or put food on the table. Farmers waiting for federal loans, low-income children on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and sexual assault survivors seeking shelter were all left unable to receive critical services.
As a history teacher and student of the Constitution, I recognize that it is the job of Congress to help safeguard and fund our nation’s security. Likewise, as a mother and wife of a police officer, I understand that the families of Northwest and Central Connecticut want to be confident in their safety. In this effort, I believe that American taxpayer dollars are best spent addressing the most pressing challenges in our immigration system, modernizing our border security and training more border patrol agents, instead of funding a medieval and wasteful wall.
On January 3, 2019, I was sworn into Congress with a single mission in mind: to get to work, and to get Americans impacted by the cataclysmic shutdown back to work. It is my utmost priority to keep the government open, functioning, and working to improve the lives of people. That is why on my first day representing the Fifth District of Connecticut, I was proud to join my Democratic and Republican colleagues in voting to pass H.J.Res.1, and H.R. 21 – two bipartisan bills that would immediately reopen the government and provide funding for border security.
H.J.Res.1 would have provided continuing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through February, at funding levels that Senate Republicans have previously agreed to. While H.J.Res.1 did not fund the President’s request of $5 billion specifically for a border wall, the bill would have kept those working to protect our national security – like border patrol officers – paid and would have provided back-pay to furloughed DHS employees who have missed paychecks because of the shutdown. The bill would have maintained $1.57 billion in funding for critical border security programs, including $1.38 billion for fencing in specified areas of the border.
H.R. 21 was a package of six bipartisan appropriations bills that funds the portions of the federal government that are currently shutdown, allowing Congress to get back to work for the American people. H.R.21 combines the language from several spending bills previously considered by the Senate that would enable Congress to subsequently address national security needs, without jeopardizing the livelihoods of our federal workers.
Immediately after voting on H.J.Res.1 and H.R. 21, the President announced that he would veto both bills. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring either bill to the Senate floor for consideration.
I again joined my Democratic colleagues in voting for a second round of smaller appropriations bills, in a further attempt to reopen our government. Specifically, I voted to reopen and fund the Treasury Department and the IRS to ensure that hardworking families receive their tax refunds on time, students could get their financial aid, and small businesses could get loans approved.
I voted in support of a bill to reopen and fund the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, to get food safety inspectors back on the job, get federal funds to farmers and fund nutrition assistance programs for low-income Americans.
I voted in support of a bill to reopen and fund the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to keep our skies safe, and keep citizens living in low-income housing from being unfairly evicted.
I voted in support of a disaster appropriations bill, which would provide emergency funding for citizens in the Southeast, and the West, who have suffered from disastrous hurricanes and wildfires in the past year. This bill would have also funded the government through February 8, 2019.
I voted in support of a bill to reopen and fund the Environmental Protection Agency, our national parks, museums and monuments for families to enjoy our natural resources and historic sites in safe and sanitary conditions.
Finally, I voted for several Continuing Resolutions that would fund and reopen all federal departments and agencies. Additionally, I also voted for a package of six conference approved appropriations bills to reopen the government – bills that House and Senate negotiators had already agreed upon.
Thankfully, on January 25, the President signed into law House Joint Resolution 28, which reopened all shutdown government agencies until February 15, 2019, and did not include the president's request for $5.7 billion in border barrier funding. However, it is unconscionable that federal workers, contractors, program recipients and their families were lurched into instability, only for this administration to accept an agreement for which my colleagues and I voted to pass the day I was sworn into the 116th Congress.
It is crystal clear that this shutdown was severely detrimental to my district, my state, and my country. I came to Congress to help people, and the shutdown did nothing but hurt people. It is vital that Congress does not again imperil American families in order fund a project that does not protect our communities. Please know that I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to prevent another government shutdown.