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Press Release: NETWORK’s Statement on Vote to End Government Shutdown and Avoid Debt Default

FOR RELEASE: October 17, 2013                                                                          
CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224,

Washington DC: NETWORK today issued the following statement about last night’s vote:

While we at NETWORK are pleased by last night’s vote to end the government shutdown and avoid debt default, our gratitude is tempered by the devastating impact of recent congressional extremism on people at the economic margins. We also hope that lessons have been learned about how NOT to govern. There is an urgent need to look forward and invest in our nation.

It is fair that furloughed federal workers, who were literally locked out of their offices, be paid so they can care for their families. However, little attention is paid to the plight of low-wage government contract workers who will lose 2 ½ weeks of pay. Many work in government lunchrooms and mailrooms, clean the buildings, and perform other needed duties. And a large number are people with disabilities. There are also many, many others living paycheck-to-paycheck, including those who depend on tourism, who will never recover their losses. As usual, people at the economic margins suffer the most. That is unconscionable.

We are also concerned about a recent statement by Representative Paul Ryan that this is the time to “pay down the national debt and jump-start the economy.” He is right about the second part, but it is shortsighted to focus only on the debt (which is already projected to go down as a percentage of GDP) and budget deficits (which have dropped substantially).  Instead we need to invest in our nation in order to build it up. Our future depends on it.

Last evening, Sister Simone Campbell, our executive director, was presented with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award at almost the same time that Congress was voting. She reminded those present at the awards ceremony that “the glory of the freedom in our country is that it’s for the 100%... We hold an obligation to ensure that all can live in dignity.” Until last evening, a group in Congress ignored that message. As a result, Americans suffered, especially those who were already struggling financially.

Congress must learn this lesson – that it must govern for the future and for the common good. That is the right and patriotic thing to do.