Northern Virginia Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran yesterday slammed a controversial House Rules change forced by the Republican majority that gives House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sole authority to prevent the House from voting for a clean funding bill to end the federal government shutdown.
At a Capitol Hill press conference, Connolly and Moran pointed out that the shutdown has hurt Virginia, more than any other state. “Our people are hurting,” Connolly said.
Virginia is home to more than 185,000 federal employees. It has a strong military presence and a large number of veterans. One-third of the state’s economy is dependent on federal spending and federal contracting is big business in the Commonwealth.
“This affects real lives. Imagine the shock all of us had when we learned the power since October 1st – the power to bring a clean CR to the floor that so many of our fellow members of Congress have said they would support, including four Republicans and three Democrats in the Virginia delegation — was in the hands of a Virginian, Eric Cantor,” Connolly said. “So we call on him to use that power and allow a vote to reopen the government and to stop the suffering of our fellow Virginians.”
Under the House Rules in force for two centuries, any member of the House could bring up the Senate-passed “clean continuing resolution.” But under the Rules change passed by the House majority in early October, only Cantor can bring up the bill.
“The House majority would not have added this language if they didn’t know that a clear CR would pass if brought to the floor. They didn’t even restrict the power to a member of the Majority. They only gave it to House Majority Leader Cantor,” Connolly said.
“The Washington Post had a story a few weeks ago about the fact that Virginia is virtually the only state in the union that has seen its median household income fall, while everywhere else median household incomes in the recovery since the great recession are actually rising. Why is that? Because of sequestration and shutdown,” Connolly said, noting that more than a third of GDP in Virginia is directly dependent on federal investment and spending.
“Take a look at Fairfax County,” Connolly said. “Nationwide, housing foreclosure rates have plummeted since the great recession began. In Fairfax County and throughout northern Virginia foreclosure rates are rising. Why? Two reasons: sequestration and shutdown.
“The federal footprint has such an incredible effect on the lives and livelihoods of our constituents. I was out at fairs and festivals this last weekend after the Saturday House session and I was inundated with the stories from constituents. In person and in communications with my office, they wanted me to know about their stories, which ranged from highly personal to really quite disruptive – in terms of family income and other decisions families have to make, and some of them are quite poignant. I received one letter from a young man who put three dollar bills in the letter and said I hope you can use this to reopen the government [because] my mom is furloughed,” he said.