After Shutdown, A Year of GOP Obstruction

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16:  U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks after meeting with Republican senators regarding a bipartisan
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks after meeting with Republican senators regarding a bipartisan solution for the pending budget and debt limit impasse at the U.S. Capitol October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate announced that it had reached a bipartisan deal on funding the federal government and the extending the nation's debt limit after 16 days of a government shutdown. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

One year ago today, Republicans made their strongest possible case outlining their governing principles.

Threatened by the prospect of millions of Americans securing access to quality, affordable health care, Republicans chose instead to shut down the federal government.

The consequences of their actions were felt across the nation. America's national parks shuttered. Children were turned away from Head Start classrooms. The National Institutes of Health was forced to reject new patients from potentially lifesaving clinical trials. More than 800,000 federal workers were furloughed.

When the reckless gamesmanship finally ended after sixteen days, the long-term consequences were apparent. The GOP shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion and cut .3 percent of growth off the GDP. A major credit rating agency threatened to lower the United States' credit rating because of the risk that we would default on our nation's debts.

At the time, some in the Republican caucus claimed to have realized the error of their ways and pledged not to do it again. But with the midterm elections less than five weeks away, it is clear that Republicans have not learned their lesson.

Over the summer, Mitch McConnell candidly admitted the GOP's plans should they win control of the Senate -- hold the American economy hostage by repeatedly threatening to shut down the government unless President Obama did exactly what they wanted.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Steve King similarly suggested that Republicans should threaten another government shutdown if President Obama acted to fix the nation's broken immigration system -- action that's supported by the majority of Americans.

It is a callous interpretation of the relationship between Congress and the president, but sadly to be expected of a Republican Party whose GOP-controlled House chose to sue the president for doing his job when they failed to do theirs.

Rather than take action that will help middle-class families or expand opportunity for all Americans, many Republicans are more interested in scoring political points. They are following the lead of Ted Cruz, architect of the shutdown strategy, and Rand Paul, who viewed the closing of crucial government services as a public relations fight Republicans could win. What's more is, Republican candidates for Senate like Bill Cassidy, Joni Ernst, David Perdue and Tom Cotton supported the shutdown and the last thing we need is more of that in Washington.

This is the choice that voters will face next month when they head to the polls -- Republicans who are willing to jeopardize our economic well-being when they don't get their way, or Democrats who will work to fix our nation's problems.

Voters can see that the Democratic Party shares their priorities. We're fighting to increase the minimum wage, because no one who works full time should have to raise their family in poverty. Democrats support paycheck fairness, because pay equity is not just a woman's issue, but a family issue and an economic issue. These are actions that would immediately help families make ends meet, and a far more productive use of Congress' time than another destructive government shutdown.

There are serious issues facing our nation that we will need to address in the years ahead. We understand that both parties have to work together. But that can't happen if Republicans decide to take their ball and go home every time things don't go the way they want.

You can disagree how we should address climate change, or immigration reform, or investing in our children's' future. But whether Congress fulfills its most basic functions, or whether our country meets our obligations, should never be up for debate.

Voters will head to the polls in less than five weeks. While Republicans threaten another shutdown, the best way to ensure a government that shares their priorities is to elect Democratic candidates who are willing to stick it out and fight on their behalf.