U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) today called on Speaker Boehner on the House Floor to end the damaging government shutdown that is hurting East Bay residents and Americans around the country. Rep. Swalwell implored his colleagues across the aisle to consider the pain and anxiety they are causing federal employees and contractors, many of whom live in Rep. Swalwell’s district and attended his town hall in Dublin this Sunday to express their frustration about the ongoing shutdown.
“Mr. Speaker, I came to Congress to help people not to hurt people, and this shutdown is hurting innocent Americans.
“This past Sunday I flew back home because Congress was not in session. We were not voting on Sunday. So, I took a flight home to California to meet with my constituents in my congressional district.
“I held a town hall. I held it at Dublin City Hall. Dublin City Hall is where I served as a city councilmember. Dublin is also home to many federal employers, and in my congressional district we have 4,000 federal employees, plus a number of government contractors who work at Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories.
“I also held it at Dublin City Hall because for two years as a city councilmember I worked in that chamber day in and day out to make sure that we provided a balanced budget. We provided a two-year budget. It’s so frustrating for me here in the Congress that we provide budgets that are only 45 or 60 days at a time, and across America our city councils are thinking big and thinking forward and balancing their budgets while taking measured investments in the future.
“I gathered the community of California's 15th Congressional District at Dublin City Hall and we had over 150 people attend. The room was filled with fear and anxiety. Federal workers were in the room, worried about what this was going to mean for their personal income, for their family, for their household bills.
“Even though federal workers in my district have been furloughed, their bills have not been furloughed. The home lenders are still calling asking where the mortgage is going to be. Their auto loans are still going to be due. Their credit card statements will still arrive. If they have kids in college, they are still going to have to pay tuition.
“The federal employees told me about the stress they are living under, either not being able to work, or even worse, being told that they have to work but they are not going to receive their paycheck right now. In fact, we were reminded in this very chamber just last week how stressful that can be when the Capitol Hill police who stand guard here at democracy's door, who protect the people's house, rush to aid the Members of Congress and the employees who work in this building as an erratic driver drove into a barricaded area just outside the Capitol grounds.
“And those Capitol Hill police are working to protect us, but they are doing so without pay. So I heard stories just like that in my congressional district from the employees in my district who are very scared about what's going to happen next.
“And we learn that this is affecting people who work not just inside government but also outside government.
“Inside government we have employees Camp Parks reserve forces training area, the NASA facility in Dublin. We also have a women's federal prison. Outside government we have government contract employees, about 6,500 of them, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. About 1,500 at Sandia National Laboratories, and they told us if the government shutdown continues, they may be furloughed within the next 10 days.
“Most strikingly, the Republicans who attended expressed their concern as we have heard in this chamber about the Affordable Care Act. And I understand that. But not a single Republican who attended told me or told our other constituents that they believe that their concerns over the Affordable Care Act were worth prolonging this government shutdown.
“There were also concerns about why don't we get some of the government up and running like some of the bills passed last week and the Senate won't take up? And I told my constituents, I won’t support any bill that pits one constituency over another. We saw bills that pitted veterans against seniors, sick children against the poor.
“It is time to get the government up and running for everybody, and veterans who attended our town hall agreed. They served this country to make sure that the government works for everybody, not just for the veterans who served it.
“I’m inspired and I told my constituents that I have hope in a freshman group that continues to gather a couple times each week that we’re here during the shutdown crisis called the United Solutions Caucus. It's about 15 members on the Republican side and 15 on the Democratic side, freshman members meeting together to see what we can do to work together.
“So finally, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, I ask you this respectfully -- did you come to Congress to help people or did you come to Congress to hurt people? If you came here to help, just like I did, then I think you know what to do next. Turn on the lights of the government that runs the greatest democracy in the world and let's get America working again.
“And with that I yield back the balance of my time.”