As I’m sure you’ve all heard, its extremely likely that the U.S. Federal Government will be shut down if Congress does not agree upon and vote on a budget (H.R. 1) for the fiscal year. All throughout the day I’ve been getting news alerts saying they are close to a compromise . . . I’m sure you are wondering what is holding things up? Is it a disagreement on how much should be cut?
All I can say is that the disagreement over spending cuts has been settled for hours now, in fact the Dems met the GOP request of $30+ billion in spending cuts, but then the GOP decided to change their mind because the Tea Party wants more. And then there is the fact that Republicans attached more than 80 riders to their initial funding bill, including several that actually increase federal spending. As Senator Reid explained, ”The two main issues that are holding this matter up are the choice of women, reproductive rights, and clean air.” Thats right – the GOP/Tea Party is going to shut down the U.S. Government because ideological policy issues that will only hurt low income and middle class Americans. More so it appears that the Tea Party conservatives are launching a “War on Women.” As evidenced by the riders that include: eliminating Title X Family Planning funds for low income women (Planned Parenthood), not allowing women to purchase health coverage with their own money if it includes abortion services, redefining rape as “forcible rape,” allow hospitals to refuse to provide abortions/medical care even to victims of rape or incest, eliminate funding for programs like Head Start and WIC and limit the EPA from being able to set regulations for carbon emissions, etc (learn more about these riders here). And as Speaker Boehner explained: ”We will continue to insist that the policy riders passed in H.R. 1 are on the table. It’s just as important to many of our members as the spending cuts themselves.” It appears that compromise is not in the GOP/Tea Party vocabulary.
Here is the thing, It may be important to freshman Tea-Party members to infringe on my rights and access to safe affordable reproductive healthcare, but it is insanely irresponsible to put ideology before your primary responsibility, which is to keep our country and government running. GOP get your people in line and stop letting your freshman members act like children who really want their dessert before dinner. Because at this point dinner may not be served on the tables of many working families. There are those families who are struggling to put food on the table because our economy has yet to begin producing enough jobs to get our country back on track — and then there are those who will not be allowed to report to work or be paid because of a government shutdown. Your attempts to hold the U.S. Government and American people hostage because of extreme ideological views is childish and if you can’t put the country’s interests ahead of your own you don’t deserve to be there.
Thousands of women came to the Capital from around the country via car, bus, plane or train to tell their representatives in the U.S. Government that their bodies and access to basic reproductive healthcare are not to be toyed with. Millions of women (and men) utilize the comprehensive health services Planned Parenthood provides which include cancer screening (breast & uterine), access to preventative contraception, STI/HIV testing, etc. Attendees met with Congressional staffers and Members of Congress to explain the importance of access to reproductive and preventative family planing care that is covered by Title X funds.
While some staff members from either side of the aisle were welcoming and willing to listen, others (Nan Hayworth, M.D. R-NY – I’m talking to you) were not! Congresswoman Hayworth has said publicly that she is both pro-choice and supports access to reproductive healthcare, but actually voted in favor of cutting Title X funding to Planned Parenthood. You see where we might find issue with that? Her staff had 20 of us stand in the hallway (we “couldn’t fit in the office”), looked as if we were torturing him (its not hard to just smile and nod, even if you disagree) and refused to explain her rationale for voting no despite her public statements. When he finally stated that for “fiscal reasons” she voted to cut Title X – a staff member from Planned Parenthood pointed out to him that for every $1 cut from Title X funds that Medicaid spending would actually increase by $3. A statistic which the staffer of course never wrote down. So here is to hoping that the Congresswoman gets her views and numbers straight in time to vote for the best interests of her constituents who utilized Planned Parenthood’s services.
Sandi Fox, founder of Smart As A Fox Consulting is a strategic communications professional with over 5 years of online, social media, messaging and outreach experience. Her extensive communications background has been proven in all sectors (government, political, non-profit, and private). She has had the opportunity to work for and with organizations that serve diverse constituencies and causes from small business and labor to women’s and immigration rights. You can follow her on Twitter at @smartasafox.
For additional information about the GOP H.R. 1 riders which would greatly effect women, please read my post titled “It’s All About Jobs, Stupid! Not My Uterus!”