Friday, November 1, 2013

Open Letter to Congresswoman Capito

Dear Mrs. Capito,
         I received your response to my letter urging you to break ranks with your party and vote to end the government shutdown without delay. I find your response to be disingenuous, and my response is threaded into yours in italics.

Dear Mr. Epstein:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding government operations and a continuing resolution; it was good to hear from you and I appreciate the opportunity to learn your views on this issue. 

I wonder how many of your constituents have asked you to work with Democrats to move the country forward instead of voting with Tea Party Republicans to hold back the economy. I have written several times, but you have not seemed to listen. 

As you know, due to the failure to pass a continuing resolution before the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2013, many operations of the federal government were forced to close. Before the shutdown took place, I voted three times to avoid a government shut down by passing a continuing resolution.   Both before and throughout the shutdown, I have encouraged my colleagues to negotiate in a bipartisan way to address the fiscal issues facing our nation while keeping the government open.

Who is responsible for the failure of Congress to pass a continuing resolution or negotiate a workable budget before September 30? You and your Republican colleagues, Mrs. Capito. You voted three times to pass continuing resolutions that could not pass the Senate and would not be signed the president. You voted not to fund the government unless Democrats agreed to defund the Affordable Care Act and keep millions of Americans from enjoying the benefits of affordable health insurance. Your votes cost the American people billions of dollars, slowed the economy, damaged our credibility around the world, and hurt families. You never spoke out against the shutdown or against those Republicans who almost drove us into default on our debt.

I believe there is a consensus among the American people that the shutdown has gone on too long and I am happy to inform you that I voted in favor of bipartisan legislation to reopen the government. Congress is supposed to be about fixing problems and negotiating to a better end, not hurting the well-being of the constituents we represent because of party differences.

Mrs. Capito, one day of government shutdown would have been too long. The consensus of the American people was clear before the shutdown began: it was a bad idea and would damage the economy; yet you voted multiple times to place unacceptable conditions on reopening government.. Have you finally learned that Congress is supposed to fix problems and negotiate? Then speak out against your colleagues who refuse to! You voted to reopen the government only when you realized the favorability ratings of your party had reached an all time low of 22%.  Do you think we should be proud of you for voting to keep the country functioning for a couple months after having shut it down for three weeks?

The bipartisan agreement funds federal government programs through January 15, 2014 and lifts the debt ceiling through February 7, 2014.  This legislation also includes back pay to furloughed federal workers, and requires income verification for those seeking health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

Why did you and your colleagues vote to pay federal employees for not working during the shutdown? Perhaps you realized that they are working hard for the American people despite the fact that you treated them with such disrespect by refusing to do your job and pass a budget in a timely fashion. Though for years you have been voting for extreme Republican budgets that defund many important government programs, during the shutdown you voted for bills to fund them, though not to fully fund the government and stop the shutdown.

I will continue to work with my colleagues to resolve ongoing fiscal issues and work to minimize the remaining effects of the shutdown on West Virginians. Again, thank you for contacting me. I look forward to hearing from you again soon and invite you to visit my website for further information and to sign up for my e-mail newsletter. It is an honor to serve you.
         Forgive me if I don’t believe you at this point. If you want to represent the interests of your constituents, you should renounce your Republican colleagues and join the Democratic Party, or at least announce your independence. You and your Republican colleagues have sabotaged the American economy through intransigence and refusal to compromise costing millions of jobs and, it has been estimated, nearly a trillion dollars in revenues that might have been generated had you not voted time and again for policies that slowed growth. If you see me, it will not be visiting your website, it will be carrying a sign outside your office and shouting “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Shelley Capito must go!”

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