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Capitol Hill Needs To Learn Lessons From Shutdown

Congress is congratulating itself for coming up with a short-term resolution for the federal budget that opened the government’s doors again yesterday. But those slaps on the back aren’t being felt by millions of American workers who either lost jobs or income due to the selfish political play of select Republican lawmakers.

While radical GOP members dilly-dallied, U.S. jobless benefit claims rose to their highest level in six months, proof that the closure of the federal government had broader effects on work employment.  And respected financial services company Standard & Poor’s said the shutdown cost the U.S. economy some $24 billion.

But hey, everything’s all better, right? Not if lawmakers haven’t learned their lesson yet, financial authorities agreed. “The bottom line is the government shutdown has hurt the U.S. economy,” Standard & Poor’s stated.  “In September, we expected 3% annualized growth in the fourth quarter because we thought politicians would have learned from 2011 and taken steps to avoid things like a government shutdown and the possibility of a sovereign default. Since our forecast didn't hold, we now have to lower our fourth-quarter growth estimate to closer to 2%.”

It’s well known that hundreds of thousands of federal workers sat at home for much of October. At least, though, they’ll be getting paid back. What about federal contractors that likely won’t be reimbursed because their contracts were frozen? And the many businesses located near closed national parks that witnessed dramatic slowdowns, forcing some to close themselves? The shutdown affected regular people’s pocketbooks, and that money isn’t coming back.

That’s why it is particularly important for Congress not to sit around doing nothing for the next three months before the new budget funding deadline arrives Jan. 15. Workers can’t afford it, and our economy and global reputation can’t either. Lawmakers need to do their jobs and put the U.S. back on the road to prosperity. That means investing in our infrastructure and workforce to grow jobs in this country.

Don’t make America a joke again. Congress, your constituents aren’t laughing.