By Rep. Darrio Melton
Our leadership in Washington is failing us. Last week, Republicans put the Democrats’ backs against the wall in an attempt to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Normally, I would hold both sides responsible for failing to compromise, but this case is different. The Democrats shouldn’t compromise on Obamacare.
The ACA was passed by Congress, signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court. Even beyond that, the law has survived more than 60 attempts at repeal. The Democratic process gave us Obamacare. The President campaigned on it and was reelected because of it, not in spite of it.
The Republicans are out of options to stop it, so they’re resorting to obstructionist tactics to hit us where we hurt in an attempt to get their way.
In Alabama, 820 low-income children and 175 employees have been turned away from Head Start. Thousands more children may lose access to safe and affordable pre-K education if the shut down doesn’t end by October 11.
The Environmental Protection Agency has furloughed about 96 percent of its workforce. The Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies that keep us safe have suspended a majority of their civilian workforce too.
All total, 800,000 to one million federal employees have been furloughed, or suspended without pay.
The cherry on top? The people who caused this problem are still collecting their $175,000 per year paychecks.
I don’t know about yours, but my family would be in trouble if our income stopped without notice. Just like you and the one million furloughed employees, we depend on hard work and fair pay to make ends meet.
The Republican leadership knows that the Democrats don’t want any American family to suffer. But they also know that we don’t want to give up the fight to give every family affordable access to healthcare.
Its time to hold the Republicans accountable for what they’re doing—putting the Democrats in a situation the American people can’t win.
We will not compromise on fair pay or on affordable healthcare. And we shouldn’t have to. Tell the Republicans its time to start putting the people over The Tea Party ideology. Real families are suffering, and if they aren’t willing to be part of the solution, they should be suffering at the ballot box next November.
Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010.