Government Shutdown Threat 08-2023

As a constituent of your district and proud member of the Retired Public Employees Council of Washington (RPEC), which represents over 13,000 retired public service employees in Washington State, I am writing to you with great concern.

President Biden and Speaker McCarthy negotiated bipartisan funding levels in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (P.L. 118-5), but now some members of Congress are demanding cuts of $159 billion below current funding for Fiscal Year 2024 non-defense programs and targeting over $60.3 billion in cuts to social service programs. This would reduce spending by 29% below current funding levels. Some programs that fund state and local public services would be eliminated or drastically cut, requiring states and localities to shoulder an unsustainable burden to deliver the most basic of services that support the economy. The threat of repressive cuts to investments in services in our communities heightens the prospect of a government shutdown in October 2023 or beyond. This is unacceptable.

Federal grants to state and local governments play an indispensable role in funding health care, public education, nutrition assistance, job training, public transit, water infrastructure, housing assistance, public safety, and other critical and necessary government functions that build strong communities.

Programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security form the backbone of our nation’s social safety net and are key economic drivers. Medicare and Medicaid enable older Americans, children, people with disabilities, and families to see a doctor, get life-saving medications, and go to the hospital when needed. Social Security provides economic security for older Americans and those with disabilities.

A government shutdown would impact state and local governments, their workers, and the broader U.S. economy. State employees whose positions or agencies are heavily or fully funded with federal dollars are at risk of being furloughed. State agencies most seriously affected in previous shutdowns include occupational safety and health programs, Social Security Disability Determination offices, state public defense/military affairs, state employment services, and health and human services departments.

I am asking you, along with my 13,000 fellow members of the Retired Public Employees Council of Washington, to support the following:

  • RPEC urges Congress to reject any cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital safety net programs.
  • RPEC urges Congress to avoid a shutdown by passing 2024 federal spending bills which restore the $159 billion in proposed cuts below current spending for non-defense, and add needed additional emergency spending for public services, jobs, and safe communities.