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Op/Ed: A fake shutdown is hurting real workers

by Chip Roy

No American should be forced to work without payment. Yet, that is precisely what is occurring for many federal workers, including TSA employees providing security at airports, Border Patrol workers protecting our borders, and numerous others.

The lapse in pay is a direct result of the partial government shutdown we currently face because Republicans and Democrats are locked in a stalemate over border security funding. But where there is partisanship on the issue of the border, there is a great deal of bipartisanship when it comes to political posturing.

Last week, I voted “no,” along with six of my colleagues, against a bill described generally as guaranteeing back pay to federal workers. In truth, that bill perpetuates shutdowns and forces workers to work without pay while offering cover to politicians.

It is true that the bill would offer a guarantee. While it is important to note that in previous shutdowns all workers were provided back pay, I concede that the promise offers needed comfort to employees. My father was a federal employee for close to 25 years and I am keenly aware of how important receiving a paycheck is to these workers.

The problem is that this bill is not limited to this shutdown. By passing it, Congress is purposefully making it easier to shut down the government without legitimately shutting it down. Furthermore, they are minimizing pain for Congress while maximizing pain for “essential workers” being forced to work without pay – a truth this bill does not change in the slightest.

On the very Friday these politicians voted to “pay back pay to workers,” they rushed to the airport to fly home. In the case of some of my Democrat colleagues, they boarded a jet with lobbyists to go to an event in the Caribbean. Who was providing security at the airport? TSA. Was TSA being paid? No. Did the bill change that truth? No.

These are the games that the voters of Texas 21 sent me to change in Washington. Regardless of party, you should be ashamed of a Congress that pats itself on the back for voting to pay back pay for workers while asking them to perform services in a fake shutdown. If they were serious about the policy fights they are undertaking, they would shut down air travel. They wouldn’t last 12 hours. Instead, they posture and speechify instead of funding the necessary functions of government.

My belief is border security is an important fight to have. Texans know it. Texas is feeling the impact of failed border security. Texans are losing their lives – such as Jared Vargas, a young Texan murdered just last summer in San Antonio – at the hands of immigrants here illegally. Migrants – good people — seeking to come here are being abused. Little girls are being sold into the sex trade. Cartels are enriching themselves through trafficking human beings. Drugs are pouring into our state and our homes. If we were serious, we could stop it.

I understand that reasonable people can disagree on whether we need more fencing, more technology, more roads, cleared cane, more agents, immigration judges, or whatever mix of those things is necessary to provide Border Patrol agents on the frontline the tools they need to keep our nation secure. I happen to believe all of it is necessary, including significant fencing. That is why I support the administration’s current plan and current funding requests for all the above and humanitarian relief.

I simply could not, however, in good conscience put shutdowns on auto-pilot for the unforeseeable future in the name of political cover. I did not go to Washington to keep playing the games that have resulted in $22 trillion in debt and the lack of ability to do even our basic duties – such as securing our nation or passing annual appropriations in a timely manner.

Roy, R-Austin, represents the 21st Congressional District.

Originally posted on Austin American-Statesman.

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