This week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested that if Republicans took control of the Senate in the November elections and he became majority leader, he would increase the use of tactics that could lead to future government shutdowns. He said he would favor spending bills with extensive riders on them that would likely be opposed by the president. McConnell indicated that he would be perfectly okay with a government shutdown in those circumstances.
Working families are obviously not big fans of such veiled threats. Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan responded to McConnell:
The pocketbooks of Kentucky cannot afford another term of Mitch McConnell playing a game of chicken. We did not send Senator Mitch McConnell to Washington to work against Kentuckians! However, Mitch is now hinting of a government shutdown as a possible option if he doesn’t get his way. Residents of Kentucky want a better economy, decent-wage-paying jobs and reliable government services.
Kentuckians suffered during the last government shutdown. It drained millions of dollars and countless jobs from Kentucky’s economy. The last government shutdown denied Kentuckians access to critical government services and kept federal workers from performing their jobs on the behalf of the American people. Shame on you, Mitch! We call on Senator McConnell to stop making such reckless comments. This latest incident proves that he is not the right person to represent Kentucky in the United States Senate.
McConnell was a key player in the last government shutdown, in 2013, which didn’t go well for Kentuckians. Here are 10 ways the 16-day shutdown hurt Kentucky’s working families—and would hurt them again if McConnell got his way:
1. Benefits staff at the Veterans Administration regional office in Louisville were furloughed and couldn’t help veterans who had served our country.
2. A total of 1,300 Kentucky National Guard members were furloughed, and the state would’ve been vulnerable in an emergency. The National Guard also shut down regular drills and suspended sending soldiers for specialized training.
3. Fort Knox and Fort Campbell sent home civilian workers. Anytime workers were sent home, pay was either delayed temporarily, causing hardships, or never paid.
4. During a time of economic hardship and high unemployment, workers at the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training were laid off.
5. The new Glasgow State Nursing Facility had its Medicaid certification delayed, and patients weren’t able to be moved to the new facility, which better met their needs.
6. It delayed loans for Kentucky small businesses—without the nearly a half a million dollars in loans typically approved each day, many businesses were harmed.
7. Social Security services, such as providing replacement cards and preventing improper payments, were delayed.
8. It closed all national parks, including the state’s Mammoth Cave National Park and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. With millions of visitors coming to national parks each year, tourism-related businesses, such as motels, restaurants and shops, lost income.
9. If a shutdown goes on more than a few weeks, programs that serve the needy, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Head Start; Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, would run out of money. Veterans benefits could also run out.
10. Grant payments for transit systems and reinvestment in related infrastructure (something Kentucky got more than $61 million for in 2012) could be delayed, potentially leaving bridges and other parts of the transportation grid in dangerous states.
The president’s Office of Management and Budget released a report on the shutdown that detailed the wider problems the obstructionist Republican tactics had on the economy and on working families across the country.