Thursday, October 3, 2013

Conyers Warns of Dire Prospects for Federal Government and the Nation in Face of Government Shutdown

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement concerning the shutdown of the federal government, including the federal Judiciary:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Following the election of the Republican Majority to Congress in 2010, we have careened from one manufactured fiscal crisis to another. At midnight last night, House Republicans forced the government into shutdown that has already begun to harm federal workers and shutter essential government functions for families across the country all due to Republicans’ insistence on derailing the Affordable Care Act prior to its implementation. This ideological obstructionism is unprecedented and will have serious consequences for the entire Nation,” said Conyers.

“The Republican government shutdown will also have a devastating impact on federal Judiciary and law enforcement agencies. Specifically, over the last day I have learned that, amongst other things, a government shutdown will lead to the following:

Ø  In two weeks time the federal Judicial system will close down for all cases except those deemed most essential

Ø  Attorneys at the Justice Department may be prevented from protecting public health and safety, and to recoup billions from fraud and abuse of federal funds

Ø  FBI agents will be unable to receive critical training for recruits at Quantico, in addition to the FBI being unable to bring in new agents next year because of budgetary cuts

Ø  Over 404,000 enrolled employers and U.S. businesses will be hurt from being unable to have needed access to E-Verify, the Internet-based system that allows employers to voluntarily determine the eligibility of prospective employees to work in the United States.  Last year more than 21 million queries were sent through the E-Verify system

Ø  The Office of Foreign Labor Certification at the Department of Labor will close and neither accept nor process any Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification.  This effectively prevents employers from seeking green cards for their essential employees, as well as from applying for high-skilled H-1B visas, agricultural H-2A visas, or non-agricultural H-2B visas. 

Ø  A government shutdown would result in the closure of most U.S. immigration courts, further adding to the backlog of immigration court dockets, which already suffer from years-long delays. 

“These dire effects of a government shutdown come in addition to the $85.4 billion in budgetary sequester cuts already in place for 2013. The federal Judiciary alone has already taken a $350 million budgetary hit, with a $52 million shortfall for federal public defenders providing legal representation to indigent offenders. In addition, funding has been severely curtailed for substance abuse and mental health treatment, as well as for probation and pretrial services officers.

“Holding the federal government hostage over ideological demands is a reckless way to govern, and I urge my Republican colleagues to abandon this divisive approach. Playing politics with the fiscal health of the United States, and the actual health of the American people over the Affordable Care Act, is irresponsible and must come to an end.”

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