As the president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2609 at Malmstrom Air Force Base I feel it is my responsibility to speak out about the recent government shutdown and the furloughs that accompany it. There are 11,000-plus civil service employees in Montana affected by the furlough. This is because the House of Representatives will not allow a Continuing Resolution without any stipulations about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to be voted on.
The Senate has passed a simple bill to extend funding which would keep the government running and end the furloughs. The majority of House members would vote in favor of such a bill. House Speaker Boehner won’t allow the vote to be taken on a bill without any strings attached because of the Hastert Rule. This rule says that a bill will not be brought to the floor of the House unless a majority of the majority are in favor of it. There is a small contingency of Republicans who are trying to modify the Constitution and the way that ideas become laws. They feel that if they hold the budget hostage, they can get the Affordable Care Act defunded. There are enough of these Republicans against a clean Continuing Resolution that Speaker Boehner would have to break the Hastert Rule to bring a clean Continuing Resolution to the floor. This is why civilian employees are furloughed, which is hurting our economy. The Affordable Care Act and a continuing resolution to fund the government are not connected in any way, except in the minds of some House members.
Regrettably these are the only members Boehner wants to listen to. He has indicated that he will break the Hastert Rule for the debt ceiling. Why not for the Continuing Resolution? As Montanans we need to let our voices be heard. We need to let our representatives know there are 11,000-plus people in Montana who want to get back to work, if the House would only allow an up or down vote on a Continuing Resolution without any strings attached.
David Chandler, president