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Gwen Graham calls for extended session to avoid shutdown

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham on Friday renewed her call for an up-or-down vote on a House budget to avoid a shutdown of the federal government.

On Thursday, Graham called upon the House’s Republican leadership to pass a “clean” budget extension – that is, one without a provision to defund Planned Parenthood as many right-leaning House GOP-ers are now calling for.

In lieu of that, Graham joined 79 fellow members of Congress in writing an open letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to extend the ongoing House session until a budget deal is reached.

Lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington in five days but don’t seem anywhere close to striking a deal. Boehner and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi reportedly met Thursday to talk about the mechanics of a possible shutdown, and to discuss last-ditch efforts to avert one.

In the one-page letter co-signed by Graham, Democratic legislators warned that another shutdown could have serious negative consequences on the national economy.

“We already know the impact that a shutdown will have on our economy because it happened just two years ago,” reads the missive. “According to Standard & Poor, the 16-day government shutdown of 2013 cost the U.S. economy $24 billion and reduced fourth quarter GDP growth by 0.6 percent. We simply cannot allow this failure to happen again.”

The 2013 shutdown was supported by former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, the Tea Party congressman Graham defeated to assumed the reins in the 2nd Congressional District this past November.

Graham’s campaign labeled Southerland “Shutdown Steve” in an effort to appeal to the North Florida district’s distaste for such maneuvers. Tallahassee and much of the eastern Panhandle relies heavily on federal funding to survive.

“Taxpayers can’t afford another self-inflicted government shutdown,” Graham said in a prepared statement Friday. “The workers, small business owners, and service members I represent in North Florida work at least 40 hours a week – and Congress should work just as hard. Speaker Boehner needs to end the long weekends and keep us in session until we pass a clean budget extension.”

“Congressional leadership is fine with the status quo – leaving early and avoiding working together to find real solutions – but the voters I represent are fed up with it. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work passing a smarter budget that fully funds our military and communities.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at [email protected]

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