RELEASE: Gottheimer Stands with Law Enforcement and Firefighters as Government Shutdown Threatens Public Safety and National Security

Announces Bipartisan Plan to Stop Shutdown. Shutdown will halt servicemember pay and cut investments in NJ first responders.

Sep 26, 2023
Press

Above: Gottheimer with New Jersey law enforcement and firefighters at the Bergen County 9/11 Memorial.

LEONIA, NJ — Today, September 26, 2023, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined New Jersey law enforcement, first responders, and local leaders to sound the alarm on the devastating impacts a government shutdown will have on public safety and national security. Last week, the 64 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which Gottheimer co-chairs, endorsed a bipartisan framework to avoid a government shutdown.  

The last shutdown in 2019 cost taxpayers $66 million a day – or more than 2.2 billion over the 34 days it lasted. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the last shutdown cost our economy $11 billion dollars in just five weeks. 

Government shutdown impacts on military and first responders:

  • Halt pay to more than a million service men and women. The Blue Star Families organization says one in three military families has less than $3,000 in savings, which is not nearly enough to cover the cost of housing and child care. 
  • Federal law enforcement, who are critical to keeping our communities safe and protecting our national security, will also go without pay, and their operations could be put on hold or slowed down.
    • Major national and international operations, including combating drug traffickers and terrorists and securing our borders could be interrupted. 
  • Jeopardize federal investments for key programs like SAFER, LESO, AFG, and COPS grants that protect our police.
    • Since 2017, Gottheimer has helped first responders in New Jersey’s Fifth District claw back nearly $35 million from Washington. That averages to $480,000 per month. If the government shuts down, our local police and firefighters stand to lose nearly half a million in grant dollars to protect themselves and our communities every month.
  • Threaten countless defense projects, from fighter jets to naval destroyers – key to our national security.

A government shutdown will also:

  • Freeze new investments for the federal school meals program, meals on wheels for seniors, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) for lower-income pregnant and nursing women, babies, and young children, and for SNAP to help lower-income families with their groceries.
  • Put at risk support for veterans, seniors, and childcare.
  • Impact the economy, infrastructure projects, federal food inspections, the safety of our nation’s transportation, and will cost jobs, profits, and economic growth.

Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus continuing resolution framework to stop the government shutdown includes: 

  • Passage of an FY24 full-year appropriations package by January 11, 2024 that adheres to the parameters and funding levels agreed upon in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
  • The President’s funding request for Ukraine with transparency and federal disaster response.
  • A border security solution with enforcement through the 2024 calendar year.
  • Adopting bipartisan budget process reform recommendations of the House Committee on Modernization and Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform to increase transparency, restore regular order, and prevent excessive use of CRs.
  • Creating a Fiscal Commission to review and recommend a package to stabilize long-term deficits and debt and require CBO to consider the cost of servicing the debt in its estimations.

“In just five weeks, the last shutdown cost our economy $11 billion dollars. That’s jobs that aren’t being created, raises that aren’t given, and money that’s not being pumped back into our economy. The credit rating service Moody’s even said a shutdown would be a negative hit on America’s credit, sending inflation up, and America’s reputation in the world down. The only winner: the government of China that’s dying to see us falter, adding to a black eye that we narrowly avoided with the debt ceiling fight,” said Congressman Gottheimer, Problem Solvers Caucus Co-chair. “Despite the countless sacrifices made by service members and first responders, in only five days, if the far-right extremists in Congress have their way, and a short-term funding bill isn’t passed, the federal government will shut down, jeopardizing America’s public safety and our national security.”

Gottheimer continued, “But I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised. This is the same group of ultra-right extremists that tried to get the country to default on our debt, and send our economy into a tailspin. This is the same group that voted multiple times to block key legislation for our national defense. This past week, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which I Co-Chair, put forth and endorsed a framework that keeps the government open, addresses our nation’s longer-term fiscal health, and includes fiscally responsible measures.”

“As firefighters, EMTs, and dispatchers our jobs are to keep the communities we serve safe. The job of Congress is to keep the federal government running, providing us the resources we need to serve those communities,” said Vice President of the NJFMBA Wayne Wolk. “We can’t threaten not to do our jobs, but Congress is threatening not to do theirs. We are grateful to Congressman Gottheimer for being a sensible voice and fighter for solutions.”

“What a government shutdown means in the eyes of the fire service: it affects every level. Nationally, you’ll see every one of our military bases protected by our federal firefighters and we’re going to ask those guys to come to work but not receive a paycheck — I think that’s a big ask. Our federal wildland firefighters, 19,000 of them, will most likely receive a drastic pay cut. The effects of that will be long-term because many of them will be forced to seek out other employment. They’re the lowest-paid firefighters as it is, if not for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill a couple of years ago, they’d still be earning around minimum wage. These folks will have no choice but to be forced to look for other work if the shutdown goes through,” said Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) President Steve McConlogue. “Now we bring it home to the state and local level… we rely heavily on SAFER grants which put staffing on firetrucks, we rely on AFG grants which provide equipment and necessary training. These grant programs will undoubtedly be hindered. The personnel who administer them will most likely be furloughed with departments in this state whether cities or municipalities many of them depend on these grants to stay operations to stay safe, to provide that service to their residents.”

Earlier in September, Gottheimer announced a “Stop School Hunger Strategy” to protect school breakfast and lunch threatened by government shutdown.

Gottheimer was joined by Leonia Councilman William Zeigler, Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) President Steve McConlogue, Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association (FLEOA) President Larry Cosme, New Jersey Police Benevolent Association 3rd VP Michael Freeman, Bergen County PBA Conference and PBA Executive Board Chairman Vincent Rizzo, State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey (STFA) Vice President for Legislation of the Sal DiGirolamo, New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA) Vice President Wayne Wolk.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer with New Jersey law enforcement and firefighters at the Bergen County 9/11 Memorial.

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Good morning. We’re here today in Leonia at the Bergen County 9/11 Memorial. Just fifteen days ago, we came together to remember and honor the 3,000 Americans that tragically lost their lives that day — including more than 400 firefighters, police, and other first responders who ran into the towers — true patriots, who put others ahead of themselves and their families.

That day, from Bergen County alone, we lost 147 residents — not to mention the 750 lost across New Jersey.

More than 5,000 first responders and others who were in and around the World Trade Center have died since 9/11 from the toxic 9/11 exposure.

I can’t thank the Jersey law enforcement and firefighters here with us today enough for everything they do every day to keep our families safe. 

In the year following September 11, 2001, more than 180,000 thousand Americans enlisted in the ranks of active-duty service, and nearly 73,000 joined the enlisted reserves. Many of these brave men and women said it was 9/11 that inspired them to enlist.

Just like our first responders, our courageous service members always put country first and far too many have made the ultimate sacrifice defending our country and our freedoms.

Despite the countless sacrifices made by service members and first responders, in only five days, if the far-right extremists in Congress have their way, and a short-term funding bill isn’t passed, the federal government will shut down, jeopardizing America’s public safety and our national security. 

If the far-right extremists have their way, our service men and women and federal law enforcement – 2.1 million of them – will not only lose their pay, but also key programs like SAFER, LESO, AFG, and COPS grants that protect our police and firefighters will immediately lose their funding.  Many defense projects, from fighter jets to naval destroyers – key to our national security – could  freeze in their tracks. 

The last shutdown in 2019 cost taxpayers $66 million dollars a day – or more than 2.2 billion over the 34 days it lasted. 

Shutting down the government again will hurt our seniors, veterans, freeze infrastructure investment here in Jersey, and federal school meals program that provides breakfast and lunch to millions of children who otherwise go hungry. It will end meals on wheels for seniors and will put vital nutrition assistance at risk for nearly seven million women and children who rely on WIC —a program that serves nearly half the babies born in America, including 34,000 infants right here in Jersey. SNAP benefits will also be at risk.

And, if the government shuts down in five days, critical functions of the U.S. government will grind to a halt, including Social Security and Medicare card issuance, FDA inspections of food facilities and the approval of new life saving drugs. Nearly 10,000 children will lose access to Head Start, an early childhood education program.

A shutdown will also hurt our economy. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the last shutdown cost our economy $11 billion dollars in just five weeks. 

That’s jobs that aren’t being created, raises that aren’t given, and money that’s not being pumped back into our economy. The credit rating service Moody’s even said a shutdown would be a negative hit on America’s credit, sending inflation up, and America’s reputation in the world down. The only winner: the government of China that’s dying to see us falter, adding to a black eye that we narrowly avoided with the debt ceiling fight. 

But I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised. This is the same group that tried to get the country to default on our debt, and send our economy into a tailspin. This is the same group that voted multiple times to block key legislation for our national defense. I mean even Speaker Kevin McCarthy, their leader, just said last week that this extreme right group, also known as the Freedom Caucus, wanted to quote, “burn the place down.”  

It makes me sick that, as part of their bonfire, these far-right extremists are ready to defund federal and local law enforcement, firefighters and our military. Can you imagine having the audacity to tell a military family they won’t be getting a paycheck, or that funding for cops and firefighters to protect our communities would be cut? It’s pathetic that people are listening to Donald Trump’s calls to shut down the government. Yes, former President Trump literally called on the far right to shut the government down again, just like he did during his term – totally screwing the country, service members, first responders, veterans, seniors, and children. 

I want to give you a few specific examples of how our military and first responders will suffer if the extremists get their way and burn the place down.

First, as I said, our service members will go without a paycheck during the shutdown. The Blue Star Families organization says one in three military families has less than $3,000 in savings, which is not nearly enough to cover the cost of housing and child care. 

New Jersey has thousands of service members who will be affected and more than 21,000 federal employees who will face similar challenges. That includes federal firefighters across our state.

The bottom line is a government shutdown will put our national security and military readiness at risk. 

Second, federal law enforcement, who are critical to keeping our communities safe and protecting our national security, will also go without pay, and their operations could be put on hold or slowed down.

Major national and international operations, including combating drug traffickers and terrorists and securing our borders could be interrupted. Not to mention, undercover operations and drug investigations that need to continue could be compromised because federal funding would stop. That puts the safety of our undercover agents at risk and is detrimental to investigations.

During the 1996 shutdown, AFT operations were significantly hindered. That means firearms offenses and gun violence could spike.

When federal law enforcement is not operating at a high level, then it makes the jobs of our local and state first responders that much more difficult because of how intertwined the two are.

Third, a government shutdown will jeopardize critical federal investments to state and local law enforcement and firefighter departments, including, as I mentioned, key programs like SAFER, LESO, AFG, and COPS grants. These all help protect first responders and families in our communities. 

Since coming to Congress, I’ve made it my mission to claw back from Washington as many federal dollars as humanly possible to Jersey and our first responders. Since 2017, the Fifth District is now up more than 357 percent in grants, resources, and federal dollars we’ve clawed back from Washington. This federal investment helps to lower our local property taxes, make our communities safer, and make life more affordable. For instance, we helped New Milford get a $750,000-dollar new fire truck through the AFG program.

We helped Paramus claw back $625,000 dollars through the COPS grant so they could hire for five new officer positions.

In fact, since 2017 when I got to Congress, I’ve helped first responders in New Jersey’s Fifth District claw back nearly $35 million dollars from Washington.

When you do the math that averages out to $480,000 dollars per month. That means if the government shuts down, our local police and firefighters stand to lose nearly half a million in grant dollars to protect themselves and our communities every single month.

That’s the bad news. But, as you all know by now, I’m an optimist. I’m for reasonable, commonsense governing – I’m not big on letting extremists burn the place down. We can stop a shutdown if both sides work together and put common sense over extremism. So, here’s some good news:  

This past week, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which I Co-Chair, put forth and endorsed a framework that keeps the government open, addresses our nation’s longer-term fiscal health, and includes fiscally responsible measures.

Our bipartisan framework includes a continuing resolution, or CR, to fund the government through January 11, 2024, staying true to the funding levels agreed to during debt ceiling negotiations, provides aid to Ukraine federal disaster response with transparency and accountability, boosts border security, and creates a fiscal commission to help address our long-term deficits and debt. 

We can stop a shutdown if both sides work together, just like the evenly divided, sixty-four member Problem Solvers Caucus did with the debt ceiling negotiations. It’s the same bipartisan approach we took to passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the Pact Act for veterans, the CHIPs and Science Act, historic gun safety legislation, and electoral reform legislation. Working across the aisle around reasonable commonsense ideas gets things done. 

To be clear, with divided government, a bipartisan proposal is the only way to stop the far-right from holding Congress hostage, get a bill out of the Senate and signed into law by the President. 

But Speaker McCarthy needs to decide if he wants to work with people who are reasonable and focused on governing — moderate Democrats and Republicans like those in the Problem Solvers. Or does he want to let extremists burn the place down — hurting veterans, our military and defense, law enforcement, seniors, the economy, and our families. 

I’m urging the Speaker to put our bill or another continuing resolution from the Senate up for a vote on the floor this week. It will get bipartisan support – and it will stop a government shutdown, help hard-working families, spur our economy, and protect our national security. 

We can’t afford to let five members in the Freedom Caucus — the extreme right –  hold us all hostage. We can get this done. We have five days left. Commonsense can prevail. 

Here in the greatest country in the world, I know that if we work together —  Democrats and Republicans – and put country over party and common sense over extremism, our best days will always be ahead of us.

God bless you, God bless our first responders and troops, and may God continue to bless and watch over the United States of America.

###

Recent Posts


May 24, 2024
Press

RELEASE: Gottheimer Joins Congregation Bnai Yeshurun to Discuss Rising Antisemitism and Standing Against Hate at Home

Above: Gottheimer speaking at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. TEANECK, NJ — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer held a fifth community discussion at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. Gottheimer dialogued with Rabbi Elliot Schrier about rising antisemitism — online, on campuses, and in North Jersey communities — and his work to combat it. During the event, Congressman Gottheimer highlighted the record […]



May 23, 2024
Press

RELEASE: Gottheimer, D’Esposito Introduce New Legislation to Hold the MTA Accountable for its Hypocrisy

Above: Gottheimer and D’Esposito announcing new legislation to stop MTA CEO Janno Lieber from using federal funds for a taxpayer-funded vehicle. WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Thursday, May 23, 2024, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Anthony D’Esposito (NY-4) introduced new legislation to stop MTA CEO Janno Lieber’s continued Congestion Tax hypocrisy. While hardworking commuters, nurses, teachers, […]



May 22, 2024
Press

RELEASE: House Passes Gottheimer-led Bipartisan Legislation to Modernize Crypto Regulation and Protect Consumers

Above: Gottheimer on the House floor. WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (FIT21), which U.S. Congressman Gottheimer helped negotiate in the Financial Services Committee, passed the House with bipartisan support. This bipartisan legislation clarifies regulation for digital assets, bolsters consumer protection, and ensures […]