Rhode Island Second Congressional District Congressman Seth Magaziner had a plane to catch at Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport on Tuesday, as he headed back to Washington for final …
Rhode Island Second Congressional District Congressman Seth Magaziner had a plane to catch at Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport on Tuesday, as he headed back to Washington for final negotiations to avoid the federal government’s first shutdown since early 2019. Unless an agreement is reached, the shutdown will occur Oct. 1.
Before leaving for DC, he had a message for Republican members of the House of Representatives who are withholding their support.
“The American people deserve better than the partisan fighting, the dysfunction and the games that politicians in Washington are playing with people’s lives,” Magaziner said. “Let me be clear: this shutdown is preventable.”
Among other potential impacts of a government shutdown would be expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). According to a press release from Senator Jack Reed, expiration of the program on Friday would have a severe effect on home sales.
Reed said there are about 15,000 NFIP policies in effect in Rhode Island, and 4.7 million policyholders nationwide. Renewals on existing NFIP policies would also be affected by a shutdown. He said 1,300 home sales were disrupted daily nationwide the last time the program was allowed to expire. According to the most recent information provided by the city, 1,043 Warwick residents have flood insurance policies.
On Tuesday Magaziner was joined by Navy veteran Matt McCoy, Senior Agenda Coalition for Rhode Island Executive Director Cindy Coyne, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades representative Justin Kelley and Air Traffic Control Specialist Jamie Green.
The four spoke about how past government shutdowns have affected their professions and lives. McCoy, who served from 1980 through 2003, went through six separate government shutdowns, including the second-longest in history, lasting 21 days in 1995 through 1996. McCoy noted service members would get paid after the shutdown, but making them serve without pay until that point, he said, was unacceptable.
“I find it unfathomable that some members of Congress find it acceptable for American service members, including those who are deployed and stationed overseas, to serve without pay,” McCoy said.
McCoy also said that shutdowns hurt military recruitment and retention, which he attributed to military members valuing stability. According to the United States Department of Defense, the U.S. Army is expected to fall 15,000 members short of its recruiting goal this year, and the Navy is expected to miss their goal by 10,000.
Kelley, whose father served in the military, called shutting down the government “unconscionable,” and said that interruptions with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) would put many workers in his industry at risk.
Green said that many of her colleagues started working second jobs during the last government shutdown in 2018 due to the loss of income. She said Green Airport would be significantly affected by a shutdown, with some programs suspended and some professions, including staff support specialists.
“Many air traffic controllers already work six day work weeks and mandatory overtime,” Green said. “Asking my dedicated colleagues to work without pay only adds to our stress and anxiety that we face on a daily basis.”
Coyne noted that Social Security payments would continue during a shutdown, but services such as customer service would not be available to any recipients during that time.
According to Magaziner, the efforts of some Republicans to threaten to hold up government funding bills until their priorities are in runs counter to a bipartisan deal reached in June to raise the country’s debt ceiling.
Magaziner attributed much of the demands of far-right members of Congress to inexperience in dealing with the effects of a shut-down government.
“When I look at the members who seem most eager for a shutdown, the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Matt Gaetzes and Eli Cranes, almost none of them were in Congress for the last shutdown,” Magaziner said. “And I think they’re going to be in for a rude awakening when they get military families from their districts who start calling their offices saying ‘Hey, where’s my paycheck?’”
A potential solution to a government shutdown is filing a discharge petition- a procedure that would force a vote should a majority of House members sign onto it. However, Magaziner said that due to the process to file a discharge petition, that solution would likely not come into play until after the deadline to fund the government has passed.
Magaziner did note, though, that he believed that a majority of the House of Representatives filing a discharge petition to reopen the government should it shut down was becoming more plausible.
“I think that the discharge petition scenario seemed very unlikely two weeks ago, but now is becoming more of a real scenario,” Magaziner said. “There are, I know, at least a half dozen House Republicans who are actively considering that.”
Should a shutdown happen, Magaziner said that his office would still provide constituent services, but those services will be hamstrung due to federal agencies that his staff works with being shut down.