Today is the 21st day of the government shutdown and the first day that hundreds of thousands of federal employees will go without a paycheck. There is no end in sight to the shutdown, which as of tomorrow, will create the longest federal funding gap in U.S. history. The shutdown is hurting millions of Americans who President Trump and Republicans in Congress are cynically holding hostage for the sake of an unnecessary and ineffective border wall that was conceived of as a political ploy. President Trump’s misleading address to the nation on Tuesday night, threats to declare a national emergency, and temper tantrum negotiating antics have only exacerbated our concerns about prospects for reopening the government.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) has initiated a petition calling on Trump and Senate Republicans to work with Democrats to immediately reopen the government because we are deeply concerned about the growing social, economic, and security impact of the shutdown on our country. Senate Minority Leader Schumer said it best – “the symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a thirty-foot wall.” If you agree and want to end the shutdown, add your name to our petition and support JDCA’s growing advocacy efforts today.
Read on to hear more about action JDCA has taken in the past week, including responding to the president’s address, denouncing Senate Republican efforts to politicize Israel, and rejecting Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s “dual loyalty” claim.
Jewish Dems respond to the president’s address
There is no security crisis at our southern border, and President Trump failed to accurately or credibly make that case in his address to the nation earlier this week. There is, however, a grave and growing economic, social, and security crisis in our country resulting from the president’s decision to bring the U.S. government to a halt. The impact of the shutdown is a crisis of the president’s own making that has had a cascading effect with each passing day.
Essential government programs, including food assistance for American families and children, are in jeopardy, and 800,000 Americans are either working without pay or not working. This includes members of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers. Yes, that’s right – the president has turned his back on the very people responsible for securing our nation’s borders under the false pretense of “strengthening border security.”
We reject the president’s false claims surrounding the necessity of a wall and responded strongly to his address to the nation on Tuesday night.
Reopening the government must be top priority of Congress
This government shutdown is an abdication of the president’s fundamental responsibility to govern, but Congress is also to blame because it has the ability to pass legislation to fund the government. If the president vetoes the legislation, two-thirds of Congress can override the veto – this is the role of checks and balances upon which the strength of our democracy depends.
On the first day of the 116th Congress, House Democrats initiated and passed legislation to fund the government. It is now incumbent on Senate Republicans to do the same, but they are refusing. Events this past week in the Senate were case in point – Republicans stonewalled Democratic efforts to end the government shutdown and instead tried to change the subject by taking up a bill related to the Middle East.
While JDCA strongly supports legislation providing full aid to Israel, we stand by the decision made by Senate Democrats to first reopen the government before considering any other legislation. That is because the government shutdown is not business as usual – it is a crisis. All Senate Democrats support aid to Israel. All Senate Democrats oppose the BDS movement. But Senate Democrats recognize that the shutdown is threatening the livelihood and well-being of millions of Americans. First things first. Reopen the government.
JDCA rejects claims of dual loyalty
While we support Senate Democrats’ decision to prioritize legislation to reopen the government, we also recognize legitimate disagreements about how to legislate against BDS. JDCA supported the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in the last Congress. This week, we strongly rejected Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s accusation of dual loyalty launched at senators who supported anti-BDS legislation under consideration by the Senate. Whether you support this particular legislation or not, dual loyalty claims have historically been used to target Jews, and we reject such claims in any context.
Join and support JDCA
In order to expand our team and operations, we need your ongoing support. We are looking to accomplish great things in 2019 and beyond, and with your partnership, we have no doubt that we will succeed.
Chair, Jewish Democratic Council of America
Executive Director, Jewish Democratic Council of America