WTOP, BEN PETERS
Democratic U.S. Rep Abigail Spanberger and Prince William County leaders on Tuesday called on Congress to rise above partisanship to eschew a government shutdown.
As the deadline for Congress to fund the government looms, the Northern Virginia lawmaker held a news conference in Woodbridge with Democratic members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and local business leaders to sound the alarm of what a government shutdown could mean for the economy of a region that relies on federal activity.
Leaders said a government shutdown would hurt households that rely on paychecks from the federal government for survival. It would also have downstream effects on local businesses if large swaths of Northern Virginians are out of work and not spending money.
While Congress technically has until Sept. 30 to avoid a shutdown, members in the House have just over a week to pass a measure that would effectively push that deadline to a later date. Threatening the shutdown is a group of conservative lawmakers bargaining for significant spending cuts and other demands.
“When some people are willing to use the potential of a government shutdown as a bargaining tool or a chip in some game of trying to get what they want or extract something from the speaker, that’s playing with people’s lives,” Spanberger said. “And people in our economy and small business owners and federal contractors and federal employees should not be pawns in that game or in their negotiations.”
Spanberger, who was sworn into the House in 2019 amid the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, touted a law she introduced in May alongside Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick that would block pay for members of Congress during government shutdowns to create additional incentive for them to avoid entering one. In early 2019, Spanberger said she voluntarily withheld her pay in solidarity with many constituents who were temporarily forced out of work because of the shutdown.
Speaking alongside Spanberger were Occoquan Supervisor Kenny Boddye, Prince William Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors member Jinnae Monroe; Dr. Wakeena Dickens, CEO of Bon Mangé Cuisine; and Black American Market CEO Mariah Bailey.
“Uncertainty to furloughed and unpaid families lead to immediate austerity at home,” Boddye said on behalf of the board’s Democratic majority. “No more going out to eat, important home maintenance projects, child care, or planned doctor or dentist visits because they don’t know what’s going to happen next. They don’t know when the next paycheck is going to come.”
At-large board Chair Ann Wheeler and Potomac Supervisor Andrea Bailey were also in attendance at the event.