Over the past week, working families rallied with local faith and community leaders in Detroit, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Commerce, Lansing and Marquette. The message in all six locations was clear: end the irresponsible GOP shutdown of the federal government immediately, without cutting a budget deal that harms seniors, children, the disabled or veterans.
“By recklessly shutting down our government the Republican leadership held the American people hostage,” said Greater Lansing Labor Council President Glenn Freeman. “Instead of solving problems and creating jobs for the people who elected them, Republicans decided to rob federal employees of their paychecks, deny the American taxpayers the services they paid for and throw our economy into chaos. The people of Michigan depend on government workers and the services they provide.”
“The programs used by those in need also affect services to our veterans as well as to active duty military personnel and their families − whether it be the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, Head Start, food stamps or many other programs,” said U.S. Air Force Veteran Chris Wagner in Marquette.
Yesterday Congress finally stopped playing games with the lives and livelihoods of the American people. With possible default on our debts looming, a proposal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling through the beginning of next year passed the House of Representatives.
It should be noted that Michigan Representatives Justin Amash, Kerry Bentivolio, Bill Huizenga, Candice Miller, and Tim Walberg voted against the bill, showing a callous disregard for our national and local economies. During the shutdown more than 800,000 federal workers faced furlough across the country. State Budget Director John Nixon estimated that the shutdown cost Michigan $18 million per day.
The Congressional temper tantrum appears to be over, for now, and government personnel are going back to work in the communities they serve. But Michigan working families will continue to remain diligent so that cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare don’t become part of a so-called “grand bargain” during future budget negotiations.
The protests that took place this week were a jointly organized effort among the local AFL-CIO Labor Councils, AFGE, AFSCME Council 25, Michigan Citizen Action, MoveOn.org, and Organizing for Action.