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The human consequences of the House GOP's shutdown chaos

The only aspect of government that Republicans have limited recently is its ability to serve the people who fund it.

Imagine not being able to work because somebody else didn’t do their job. 

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are facing the possibility of temporary layoffs and unpaid work, not to mention interrupted government services paid for by taxes, because House Republicans can’t get on the same page.

Congress has until September 30 to pass a resolution to fund the government. Some Republicans in the conservative House Freedom Caucus have demanded that any such resolution also be attached to a litany of demands regarding the border, the Justice Department, and what they call “cancerous woke policies” in the military.

Some Republicans in the conservative House Freedom Caucus have demanded that any such resolution also be attached to a litany of demands.

House Republicans reached a tentative agreement on Sunday with a bill that at least nine Republicans have already announced they would vote against. This drew frustration from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who has yet to succeed in corralling his caucus. 

“If you’re not willing to pass appropriations bills, and you’re not willing to pass a continuing resolution to allow you to pass the rest of the appropriations bills, and you don’t want an omnibus, I don’t quite know what you want,” McCarthy said. “So, we just have to get together, figure it out, and move forward.”

This may be a game for some politicians, but Uncle Sam employs more than two million Americans, real people with families to support. And even if you aren’t a federal employee, you could still be affected. 

Here’s a reminder of what happened the last time the government shut down, in 2019:

Flights across the country were delayed due to staff reductions in air traffic controllers; some of our nation’s most popular monuments and pristine parks were overwhelmed with garbage because there was no one to care for them; and food safety inspections were brought to a halt for more than a month. Remember the poopy lettuce? 

All but 13 of the 1,200 employees at the National Labor Relations Board would likely be furloughed at a time when thousands of Americans are on strike. Casehandling at the NLRB would cease and back pay and litigation would be impacted. At the Department of Education, reviews of grant applications and awarding of funds would stop, and its Office of Civil Rights would not be able to investigate complaints. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission would not conduct inspections, decommissioning activities for nuclear reactors, or training.

That’s just three agencies out of more than a hundred that would be impacted, all thanks to this schism among House Republicans. 

“The House Republican civil war is hurting hard-working American taxpayers and limiting our ability to be able to solve problems on their behalf,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.. “It’s unfortunate, but as House Democrats, we’re going to continue to try to find common ground with the other side of the aisle to work with Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans and President [Joe] Biden.”

Republicans champion the idea of limited government. But ever since they took control of the House the only aspect of government that they have limited is its ability to serve the people who fund it. People like you and me.

This is an adapted excerpt from the September 18 episode of “Symone.” It has been edited for length and clarity.