Washington, D.C. (Jan. 20, 2018) — Asian Pacific Islander organizations and elected officials reacted with disgust at the inability of the U.S. Congress to pass legislation on Friday that as a result has led to a shutdown of the federal government.
U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) and Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1) announced that they will not accept their salaries during the federal government shutdown. Both Members also did not take pay during the 2013 government shutdown. In 2013, Gabbard returned her salary to the U.S. Treasury and Hanabusa donated her salary to Meals on Wheels and the Mo’ili’ili Community Center.
“Congress’ job is to serve the people, and it has failed,” Gabbard said. “Partisan posturing and grandstanding has taken precedence over human lives. Enough is enough. The failure to pass a year-long budget, and allowing the government to shutdown, while playing political football with issues of humanity is inexcusable.”
Gabbard said that by not accepting pay during the shutdown she stands with U.S. Armed forces, law enforcement, first responders and federal employees in Hawai‘i and nationwide who will also continue to serve and report for duty with no pay during the shutdown.
“Congress needs to put people before politics and reopen the government.”
Hanabusa said will again donate her salary for the duration of the shutdown to charity.
“If we cannot work together through the regular order to keep the government funded and functioning then we should put our salaries to good use supporting causes that help people and nurture the communities who need it most,” Hanabusa said.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said that Republican leaders, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.), U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), and President Donald Trump have together spent the past year working behind closed doors to take away health care from millions of people and pass huge tax cuts for the richest people and corporations in our country without input from Democrats or the public. At the same time, this leadership has ignored reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, funding Community Health Centers, protecting DREAMers, and providing parity between defense and non-defense programs, she said.
All of these issues have bipartisan support and should have gotten done months ago, she said.
“Republicans are in charge of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. They are in charge of setting the time table and the agenda, and now they’re blaming the Democrats for their own misplaced priorities,” Hirono said. “Congress is a separate branch of government. Instead of bowing to the unpredictable, mercurial, and unreliable positions of the President, we should do our jobs and send the President a government funding bill that addresses all of these priorities.”
South Asian Americans Leading Together, a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that works for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States, called the shutdown a callous decision of the President to terminate DACA in September and the ongoing inability of Congress to do its job and pass a clean DREAM Act, the government shutdown.
“America’s laws should reflect our core values of fairness, equality, and freedom. Yet the toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies of this administration continue to fly in the face of our nation’s values and led to today’s government shutdown,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director, SAALT. “Since the President decided to terminate DACA in September, over 800,000 DREAMers have lived in complete uncertainty. More than 15,000 DREAMers have already lost their status and face the daily threat of deportation. The U.S. is home to 450,000 undocumented Indians, in addition to at least 23,000 Indians and Pakistani DREAMers. The absence of a DREAM Act puts all their lives at risk.”
Month after month, Congress refuses to do the will of the people, despite overwhelming bipartisan voter support for DACA and the DREAM Act, he said. The President and his allies have stained negotiations with the most vulgar and insulting language imaginable, revealing exactly what this administration thinks of immigrant communities.
“By what alchemy does this make America great?” Raghunathan said. “A government shutdown hurts everyone, from government employees to the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers who still face the threat of deportation from the only country they’ve ever called home. DREAMers are not bargaining chips. To play political pinball with their lives does not reflect the core values of our nation. We need Congress to protect immigrant communities, and to do their job to ensure dignity and full inclusion for all Americans. This is the will of the people. Congress must do its job once and for all and pass a clean DREAM Act. There’s no time to lose.”
President Donald Trump is doing everything he can to force a government shutdown. He has rejected bipartisan deals and continually broken his promises, including the one he made to the American people last week. He’s changed his position so many times that even congressional Republicans are unsure what he is asking for, she said. It’s clear that instead of addressing the issues facing the American people, he’d rather rally his political base by pushing the country further into chaos.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund, the sister advocacy organization of the Center for American Progress, said in a press release that there is a bipartisan deal that addresses urgent priorities around funding CHIP; protecting Dreamers; providing sufficient resources equally for the military and for important domestic priorities like fighting the opioid crisis, supporting our veterans, and investing in early education; and necessary funding to assist communities who have been devastated by natural disasters. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have come together in good faith to find solutions. Trump and his supporters in Congress refuse to recognize these solutions and seem intent on pushing failed partisan ideas that they know will never pass, the press release said.
“Given everything we’ve seen over the past year, this is a sadly apt way for Trump’s chaos presidency to mark its first year: a government shutdown precipitated by the president breaking his word and refusing to accept a bipartisan deal that would help millions of Americans,” said Jennifer Palmieri, president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “To be clear — there is no reason we should end up in a Trump shutdown, and to avoid it, Republican leaders in the House and Senate need to stop enabling Trump and move forward with the bipartisan solutions that Congress has reached. If they do not, this shutdown will be as much their doing as Trump’s.”
Elected officials from the majority, along with conservative and nonpartisan political strategists, have acknowledged that President Trump and the Congressional majority — as they control the White House and both houses of Congress — would own any government shutdown, should one occur, she said.
- Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC): “The perception of most Republicans is that a shutdown does not accrue to Republican benefit. It’s a relatively tough sale. It makes it that much harder for Democrats to acquiesce on a deal because they feel like they have the upper hand.”
- Whit Ayres, Republican pollster: When the federal government shutdown for 17 days in 2013, Ayres observed, “the Republican Party’s favorable rating dropped 10 points in a matter of days, and it took a year to fully recover. It would take an act of extraordinary political agility to avoid a similar fate today.”
- Doug Heye, former senior congressional aide and Republican National Committee spokesman:“If there is a shutdown, GOP will—and should—get blame.”
- Charlie Cook, political analyst: “Make no mistake about it, when a party holds the White House and majorities in both the House and Senate, they ‘own’ any government shutdown. Things the President has said and done over the last week have only increased the price the GOP has to pay for that ownership.”
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “To believe that you can successfully blame Democrats for a shutdown over the DACA debate is naïve.”
- Joe Scarborough, MSNBC host and former Republican congressman: “Republicans own Washington, D.C. You should not give them a single vote in keeping the government running. That’s their job. This is their government, this is their Congress, this is their presidency.”
- Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA):”When there are shutdowns, our side usually takes the hit. It will be difficult for us to deflect the blame—whether we deserve it or not.”
- Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX): Not finding a solution to fix DACA, McCaul said, “would not play well for Republicans.”