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The shutdown of the federal government means important business isn’t getting done and Congress is failing in one of its primary tasks – to work together to create a better America. As a result, it means that many Americans are having their lives disrupted as important and normally routine government services grind to a halt. In addition, the shutdown is also taking a very real toll on the millions of families whose livelihoods are impacted by the furloughs of the federal workforce.
Government employees, whether at the local, state, or national level, embody the definition of “civil servants.” These often underappreciated and overlooked individuals are the everyday heroes who ensure the work of our government runs smoothly. These Americans dedicate their life to their country in our service because they believe that our government is the best in the world and their work ensures that continuation. League members often work side-by-side with public servants to improve our elections process, bring transparency to the inner workings of our government and preserve our environment for generations to come. Without the commitment and assistance of public servants, the League’s work would be much more difficult.
Beyond its impact on millions of families, the shutdown also demonstrates a breakdown of how our government should function. The League of Women Voters believes that efficient and economical government requires competent personnel, the clear assignment of responsibility, adequate financing, and coordination among the different agencies and levels of government. The inability to fund the government and keep it running fails many of these key tenets.
Furthermore, the League adopted a position on the role of Congress, outlining what a responsive legislative process should look like. Key to this is the ability for Congress to “make decisions that meet national needs and reconcile conflicting interests and priorities”, as well as “function[ing] in an efficient manner with a minimum of conflict, wasted time and duplication of effort.” The government shutdown has only illuminated the issues that have riddled Congress for years – hyperpartisanship and an inability by our leaders to put what’s best for the nation ahead of how an issue is perceived in their home districts.
We call upon Congress to swiftly end this shutdown and return to work where they should prioritize bipartisan work and focus on addressing the important issues affecting our country, including repairing the Voting Rights Act, passing comprehensive immigration reform and protecting our environment for future generations.