Listen to this article here
With just two days remaining to avoid a government shutdown, the NAACP sounded the alarm on the severe impacts a House Republican-led shutdown would bring to the nation’s military members and the most marginalized, low-income Americans.
“I am writing on behalf of the NAACP to urge you to swiftly resolve the latest manufactured budget crisis, and avoid a needless government shutdown that would disproportionately harm millions of Black Americans while also harming all vulnerable and middle class communities,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a letter sent to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday. NBC News first obtained the letter.
Democrats in the House, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the Biden-Harris White House remain ready to move forward on a deal to fund the government reached earlier this year.
Yet, a few far-right Republicans in the House have signaled they’d rather let the government shutdown if their demands aren’t met.
All five of the previous shutdowns were brought on by Republicans with damaging effects on liberal and conservative states alike. For instance, the shutdown in 2019 caused nearly 8,000 federal workers in Oklahoma to work without pay, according to an analysis from the Washington Post.
“Extremist Republican Shutdown”
Far-right members of the House Freedom Caucus seek drastic cuts in federal programs and an end to U.S. aid to Ukraine. They refuse to compromise.
Facing pressure from within his own party to avoid a government shutdown, Speaker McCarthy finds himself choosing between keeping his position of power or prioritizing the American people.
“A bipartisan compromise – one reflecting the terms you have already agreed to – is within reach,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “The NAACP is calling for the passage of a continuing resolution (CR) that rejects unnecessary and draconian cuts and instead mirrors proposals by the Senate and the White House to fund the government through the end of the year.”
With time running out, the government shutdown becomes increasingly more likely. Meanwhile, the White House is working overtime to make sure people know who to blame in the event of the increasing. In a press call on Thursday, senior officials referred to the looming threat as an “Extremist Republican Shutdown.”
“Extreme House Republicans have turned their backs” on the budget deal they negotiated months ago, Senior Advisor to the President and Director of Public Engagement Steve Benjamin said on Thursday.
Government Shutdown would harm the military
Senior Advisor to the President Anita Dunn echoed those concerns, saying a majority of Congress and the White House is ready to move forward.
“The only people here who are not wiling is House Republicans and, very specifically, a group of House Republicans who are from the most extreme fringe of the party,” Dunn said.
In a fact sheet, the White House listed several ways a government shutdown would “undermine our economy and national security, create needless uncertainty for families and businesses, and have damaging consequences across the country.”
Notably, support for the military is usually bipartisan on Capitol Hill. Yet, Freedom Caucus Republicans have appeared unfazed by the impact a shutdown would have on service-members and their families.
Millions of military personnel and members of law enforcement would be forced to work without pay until the shutdown is resolved.
“So, we have to hold them accountable and make sure they pay the political price if they are the ones who shut down the government,” Biden’s Senior Advisor Anita Dunn said.
Government shutdown would harm low-income mothers and families
Despite boasting a pro-life agenda, far-right Republicans who remain ready to enact an “extremist Republican” government shutdown don’t appear concerned at the cost it would have on those who receive WIC to help feed their babies.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) serves nearly half of babies born in the U.S., the White House said.
If the shutdown takes place, nearly 7 million WIC recipients will “literally be turned away at grocery store counters,” Biden Senior Advisor Steve Benjamin said.
The advisors added that the shutdown would also:
- Potentially deplete FEMA’s disaster relief fund
- Undermine research on Cancer and other diseases
- Eliminate Head Start slots for kids
- Undermind public health and environmental protections.
- Deny the Small Business Administration the ability to approve loans.
- Delay infrastructure projects.
- Impair workplace safety and accountability.
“Earlier this year, you agreed to a deal that averted a catastrophic default on America’s debt and in the process agreed to cap the government’s non-defense discretionary spending at approximately $772.4 and $772.7 billion in FYs 2023 and 2024, respectively,” NAACP President Johnson wrote to Speaker McCarthy.
“Now, under pressure from a handful of extreme holdouts in your conference, you appear ready to renege on that commitment and in the process risk disrupting critical programs,” Johnson said.
Ultimately, Pres. Biden signed the bill, averting a shutdown until November 17.