What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 9, 2019

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter

If you've been following this space religiously (and there's no reason why you shouldn't), you'll know that Senator Toomey's office responds to my letters via an actual letter OR via email. More often than not, it's an actual letter.

So I've fallen into the habit of not checking my email for his responses.

Sometimes the emails are missed - as happened with this one. It was sent on February 1 and I only found it a few days or so ago.

Appy-polly loggies, me droogs. Appy-polly loggies.

Anyway, here's now Senator Toomey opens his response to me:
Thank you for contacting me about the recent partial government shutdown. I appreciate hearing from you.
Ah, Trump's shutdown. Now we have to see which of my letters asked about this shutdown. Turns out it was my 92nd letter, dated 01/08/2019.

Here's what I asked:
[Senator Toomey, y]ou stated that resolving the shutdown shouldn't be difficult considering that in 2013 "every Senate Democrat supported legislation to spend $46 billion on border security and a wall."

Here are my questions.

Senator, this is about S.744, isn't it?

Didn't you vote against S.744? (Yes, you did.) Why? And more importantly, isn't it just a bit dishonest to characterize S.744 has having "border security and a wall" when the legislation itself only calls for $8 billion for the deployment and 700 miles of fencing? And wasn't that simply the 700 miles of fencing described in the Secure Fencing Act of 2006? It wasn't money for a new wall (concrete or metal slat), was it?

So weren't you spinning the truth just a wee bit, then?
Of course, Senator Toomey utterly failed to even get close to my questions.

See if you can find an answer (any answer) to the above questions in Toomey's response:
This impasse was extremely disappointing and frustrating. However, I am glad the government is reopening and 800,000 federal employees are getting paid.

On January 25, 2019, the House and Senate both passed the Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act of 2019 (H.J. Res. 28) by unanimous consent. The partial shutdown officially came to an end when the President signed H.J. Res. 28 into law later that day. H.J. Res. 28 includes a short-term continuing resolution that keeps the federal government fully-funded through February 15, 2019.

Over the next three weeks, the President and Congress will have an opportunity to craft a workable solution to avoid another shutdown. As I have said all along, the obvious, necessary resolution is a compromise that improves border security - including physical barriers where they make sense - and delivers on some Democrat priorities, too. This should not be unreasonable given that Democrats have repeatedly voted to provide funding for increased border security in recent years. I hope Democrats, who promised to negotiate in good faith if the government were open, will now compromise with the President so the country can put this frustrating episode behind us.

While some federal agencies were closed during the recent impasse, the vast majority of the federal government, about 75 percent of the government's discretionary budget, was funded and operational. Although this was a partial government shutdown, very serious concerns arose about its impact on the federal workforce. Prolonged shutdowns are devastating for federal employees and their families who face the adverse effects of not being paid. To provide relief from this detrimental situation, I cosponsored the Shutdown Fairness Act (S. 113) introduced by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). This legislation would have immediately paid the roughly 420,000 federal employees - including Coast Guard personnel and federal law enforcement officers - who were working without pay during the shutdown. Contractors supporting federal agencies in the category of essential personnel would have been paid as well. Unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues went so far as to block S. 113 and efforts to immediately pay Coast Guard members and other federal employees who worked without pay during the shutdown.

However, earlier in January, the Senate did pass the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act (S. 24) by unanimous consent. S. 24 requires all 800,000 federal employees who went without pay during the appropriations lapse to be given back-pay on the earliest date possible once the shutdown ended. S. 24 subsequently passed the House of Representatives and was signed into law by the President on January 16, 2019.

Moving forward, I want to see a permanent end to government shutdowns. That is why I have once again cosponsored the End Government Shutdowns Act (S. 104) introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). In the event Congress could not agree on an appropriations measure, affected federal agencies would continue to be funded at current levels, but over time, their allocations would be reduced to incentivize Congress to pass a full-year appropriations act.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
Pivoted away and then avoided. We deserve better from our elected officials.

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