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Tonko Slams Trump for Failure to Govern over Wall Funding

Points out Democrats consistently vote to fund border security, suggests President has been dishonest

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Washington, December 22, 2018 | comments

WASHINGTONCongressman Paul D. Tonko issued sharp criticism of the President tonight for refusing to govern and failing to commit to a bipartisan agreement that includes border security funding, resulting in government shutdown that includes the Department of Homeland Security and other critical agencies:

This shutdown achieves nothing. It could have been avoided if the President had been honest about his priorities or willing to put the country ahead of his own ego. The American people overwhelmingly oppose funding for the President’s misguided, costly and ineffective border wall, and there is no deal to be had anywhere in Congress that includes it.

President Trump committed to an agreement earlier this week that would have prevented a government shutdown tonight. Sadly, the President walked away from that agreement and shut down critical security agencies to serve his political interests instead.

Year after year, my Democratic colleagues and I have consistently supported funding for strong border security, and this year was no exception. If the President was honest in his claims about border security being his priority, this shutdown would never have happened.

Only the President knows how long he will ignore the will of the people and hold our critical security agencies closed. But starting today, his actions will lead hundreds of thousands of federal workers, and millions of Americans who depend on them, to pay the price for his arrogance. Creating chaos is not a pathway to responsible governing.

The agencies in the federal government that are entering shutdown tonight span more than 800,000 federal employees across the U.S. who will be forced to go without pay over the holidays – including 420,000 federal employees who still have to show up to work. These include:

  • Up to 88 Percent of Department of Homeland Security Employees, including:
    • 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents and customs officers
    • 42,000 Coast Guard employees
    • 53,000 TSA employees
    • 5,815 Secret Service employees, including Secret Service agents
      • Includes President Trump’s security detail and Uniformed Division Officers who protect the White House and the Vice President’s residence.
  • More than 41,000 Federal Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers, including:
    • 3,709 FBI agents
    • 3,600 deputy U.S. Marshals
    • 4,399 DEA agents
    • 2,614 ATF agents
    • 16,742 Bureau of Prisons correctional officers
  • As many as 6,000 Forest Service Firefighters

Other projected impacts include:

  • State and local law enforcement training programs will be stopped. The Department of Justice’s civil litigation efforts against bad actors will halt.  Payments to crime victims will stop.
  • The Department of State will be less able to protect diplomatic personnel and facilities or perform critical risk assessments that guide advisory warnings for American tourists traveling abroad.
  • Food Safety Inspections will be significantly curtailed. During a shutdown, the FDA is unable to support most of its food safety activities and must curtail inspections of domestic food facilities.  For example, in the 16-day GOP shutdown in 2013, the FDA had to delay nearly 360 food safety inspections.
  • Consumer Protection and Identity Theft Victim Services will be stopped. Most staff at the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission will be furloughed.  Many services for identify theft victims will halt. Customer service at the IRS will be suspended.
  • Visitor services in National Parks will be suspended. Restrooms, visitors’ centers, and interpretative programs will all be closed during the shutdown. The vast majority of National Park Service employees will be furloughed.  Law enforcement staffing will be sharply curtailed, which may put visitors’ safety at risk.
  • Critical services for farmers stop. The Department of Agriculture will be forced to close Farm Service county offices and stop providing aid to farmers. With the dramatic drop in commodity prices brought on by the trade war, many farmers have had to rely on USDA as their lender of last resort to help pay the bills and stay afloat.
  • Financial sanctions against Syria, Russia, and Iran will be curtailed due to nearly all staff at the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) being furloughed. This office implements U.S. government financial sanctions including conducting investigations, imposing penalties for sanctions violations and issuing new prohibitions and guidelines.
  • Small business loans will be halted as the Small Business Administration stops approving applications for small businesses to obtain loans and loan guarantees. These typically amount to around $1 billion per month. During the 16-day GOP shutdown in 2013, SBA was unable to process about 700 applications for $140 million in small business loans.
  • U.S. Exports will be delayed in the middle of the holiday season. For example, the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau will no longer issue export certifications for beer, wine and distilled spirits because their staff is furloughed. During the 16-day GOP shutdown in 2013, the Bureau failed to respond to 100 requests from 65 businesses for these certifications.  As a result, more than two million liters of U.S. products were left sitting in ports unable to ship.
  • Home mortgage applications will be slowed. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will see significant delays in loan processing and approvals due to the required furloughs of most employees.  Thousands of people trying to buy a new home or refinance a FHA-insured mortgage will be put on standby.

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