Costello leads fight to prevent government shutdown

Freshmen pen letter to colleagues saying another shutdown would be a ‘mistake’

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times


U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (R-6).

A Chester County congressman is leading an effort along with 10 of his fellow freshman House members to prevent a government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends, Sept. 30. Some of his GOP colleagues are pushing for a shutdown as part of an overall effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (R-6) and 10 of his fellow freshman issued the letter to remaining members of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday seeking to avoid another government shutdown, one Costello said to his colleagues would be a “mistake.”

“In 2013, as a Chester County Commissioner, I was frustrated that the federal government unnecessarily shut down for 16 days,” Costello said in a statement issued Wednesday. “I remember that frustration all-too-well, especially as I hear some of my colleagues talk about a government shutdown as a realistic and possible option.”

Planned Parenthood has come under fire after a series of videos — questioned by many on both their authenticity and accuracy, especially in the ways the videos were edited — suggesting that the organization was selling the organs of aborted fetuses for profit. Planned Parenthood has denied those claims, saying it only charges to cover its costs for preservation of the tissue, which is used for various forms of medical research and that fetal tissue is only taken with permission of the pregnant woman. Such research has been going on since at least the 1930s — although President Ronald Reagan instituted a moratorium on it in 1988 which was lifted by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

The issue has led some of the most conservative members of Congress to demand defunding Planned Parenthood, which offers various health services, including birth control and abortions, to women. Under federal law, abortions cannot be funded by federal funds — so the funds in question are strictly for birth control and other women’s health services, including prenatal care for women. Those members are insisting that any budget or any short-term government funding document include defunding of Planned Parenthood — a measure Democratic President Barrack Obama would all but certainly veto. The Republicans lack the votes in either the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate to override an Obama veto, meaning such a budget or funding bill would lead to a government shutdown.

Costello and a moderate group of GOP Congress members are seeking to split the issues, in order to keep the government functioning.

“I came to Congress because I wanted to work to keep our country and economy moving forward,” Costello said in his statement. “That is why I will not use the threat of a government shutdown to fight political battles. Anything that keeps Americans out of work, threatens to delay necessary benefits for our veterans, and weakens our economy is not a valuable negotiating tool.”

Joining Costello on the letter were: fellow freshman house members Elise Stefanik, Mimi Walters, Daniel Donovan, John Katko, Amata Radewagen, Cresent Hardy, Bruce Poliquin, Martha McSally, and Tom MacArthur.

Here is the entire text of the letter:

Dear Colleague:

With less than two weeks until the September 30 deadline to fund federal government operations, we are writing today to express our strong support for a funding resolution that will avoid another unnecessary and harmful government shutdown. We believe Congress should complete its work and provide funding for the federal government through September 30, 2016, but we are willing to support a short-term resolution that will give both the House and the Senate the additional time necessary to negotiate final spending numbers.

As freshman Members of the House Republican Conference, we were elected by our constituents to be principled, pragmatic leaders. They expect us to fulfill our responsibilities, avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and live up to our commitment to work every day to help keep the American economy moving forward.

The sixteen-day government shutdown in 2013 cost our economy an estimated $24 billion and stalled the creation of over 100,000 private sector jobs. It also imposed unacceptable delays in life­ saving NIH research studies and payment of veterans’ disability claims, cost over $500 million in lost revenue at our national parks, and shut thousands of children out of Head Start programs. In short, the shutdown not only hurt taxpayers with the loss of important government services – it actually cost more taxpayer money to close the federal government than to keep it open.

We are living in challenging times that require serious, thoughtful leadership. We are proud of the many accomplishments that House Republicans have achieved this year, including passage of the first real entitlement reform in two decades, measures to strengthen veterans’ health care, new efforts to combat human trafficking, and legislation to accelerate the discovery and delivery of life­ saving medical innovations. These legislative achievements will make a real difference in the lives of all Americans. We need to build on that record by passing fiscally responsible spending bills that will cut wasteful spending, rein in our debt, and reform government.

We stand together in the effort to keep the government funded beyond September 30 as we continue the fight to pass responsible spending bills that put the taxpayers first.


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