With the government shutdown heading into its 21st day on Friday, Congressman Josh Harder spoke on the House floor for the first time to address its impacts on residents in the 10th District.
“I rise today to remind you of the everyday faces being hurt by this government shutdown,” Harder said. “Twenty-one days into this crisis, the Central Valley has had enough.”
The partial shutdown is now the longest in U.S. history and began just before Christmas, with funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall at the heart of the conflict. For thousands of federal employees as well as those workers under contract with the affected agencies, Friday was the day the shutdown officially hit their pocketbooks as their checks are on hold.
Harder spoke of a woman from Modesto during his speech who drives 30 miles to work each day to work as a Transportation Security Administration agent and lives paycheck to paycheck.
“She’s not getting paid right now and her daughter may have to drop out of college because her mom can’t afford her tuition,” he said. “What are we doing?”
It’s not just those who depend on the federal government for their paycheck who are being affected by the shutdown, either, Harder added. Farmers in the Valley, hurt by tariffs, are unable to apply for tariff relief because the Farm Services Agency isn’t open, and hundreds of families are unable to pay their rent without HUD assistance.
The shutdown is not only affecting the country’s citizens, but the economy as well. According to an estimate by Wells Fargo retail analysts, the stall in worker paychecks and the shutdown’s potential impact on tax refunds, mortgage applications, food assistance programs and consumer sentiment could cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a week. Through Friday, S&P Global estimated that the closure has had an economic effect of about $3.6 billion.
“This is an unnecessary crisis,” Harder told Congress. “The Central Valley — America — needs this to stop. I urge everyone on this floor to put politics aside, work together and reopen our government.”
Harder and the rest of the House Democrats spent the week passing legislation meant to end the shutdown, but without funding for a border wall the bills have been met with veto threats from the White House. The President walked out of a meeting which was meant to discuss the shutdown with Democratic leadership on Wednesday, but on Thursday some relief for furloughed federal employees came when the Senate passed a back-pay bill for them that Trump said he would sign.