America’s paint and coating manufacturers have joined the growing public call on Congress to settle its budget differences and reopen the U.S. federal government.
In a letter signed last week but just released, the American Coatings Association joins hundreds of organizations across multiple industries in urging Congress to reverse the first federal government shutdown in a generation.
The U.S. government shut down at midnight Tuesday (Oct. 1) as a result of a congressional stalemate over a stopgap Continuing Resolution to fund the government.
Architect of the Capitol
The American Coatings Association urged Congress to pass a budget and raise the U.S. debt ceiling. There was little immediate sign of either action Wednesday (Oct. 2).
At the center of the disagreement is an effort by the Repubican-controlled House to de-fund the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which Congress passed and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. The Senate wants the law fully funded. Registration for health-care enrollment began Tuesday, the first day of the new federal fiscal year.
As of midday Wednesday (Oct. 2), Washington was settling in for a long shutdown, the Washington Post reported. No meetings were reported between House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV).
House Speaker John Boehner's website makes his agenda clear.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has reminded Congress that, shutdown or no shutdown, the federal government will reach its debt ceiling Oct. 17, with less cash on hand than previously esimated.
Furloughs, Closed Signs
More than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed, though President Obama has signed a bill to ensure that certain members of the U.S. military will be paid during the shutdown. (Members of Congress also receive full salary during the shutdown.)
The federal Department of Transportation has furloughed 18,481 of its 55,468 employees; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is keeping 94 percent of its staff home. National parks and many monuments are closed, and many federal websites carry warnings that information may not be up to date.
Coating makers are among the millions of Americans who say they want the standoff settled.
President Obama warned Monday (Sept. 30) against a federal government shutdown.
In a Sept. 27 letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the American Coatings Association added its signature to those of 235 other organizations urging Congress to pass the Continuing Resolution and act "expeditiously" to raise the debt ceiling.
Call for 'Normal Operations'
Excerpts of the letter released Tuesday by ACA do not mention the Affordable Care Act, although it does take a swipe at "entitlement" programs (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security).
“We appreciate fully the importance of restraining federal spending, both discretionary spending and mandatory spending, to reduce federal budget deficits, contain the growth of federal debt, and thereby re-establish fiscal discipline in the near-term and for the long haul," the letter said in part.
"However, with the U.S. economy continuing to underperform, the federal government needs to maintain its normal operations pending a successful outcome of broader budgetary reforms.
"It is not in the best interest of the employers, employees or the American people to risk a government shutdown that will be economically disruptive and create even more uncertainties for the U.S. economy."
Entitlement and the Debt Ceiling
The signatories also "respectfully urge the Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner and remove any threat to the full faith and credit of the United States government."
At the same time, the letter criticizes entitlement spending as "the main driver of these deficits and high debt levels" and says the programs "must be addressed." The three programs cost $1.6 trillion today and will cost $3 trillion in 10 years, the letter says.
"Spending on entitlement programs and interest on the debt currently represents 65% of total government outlays and already exceeds all federal income tax revenues collected." the letter says. "In 10 short years, these payments are projected to reach 76% of government spending."
It adds: "The biggest threat imaginable to our entitlement programs is to do nothing at all."
The group urges Congress "to act promptly to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government and to raise the debt ceiling, and then to return to work on these other vital issues."