The government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018 significantly impacted Florida and our entire nation. The President created this manufactured crisis, saying he was ‘proud’ to keep the government shutdown for ‘months or years.’ His all-or-nothing demand for a border wall created major security vulnerabilities across our state and country, not to mention holding the paychecks of more than 800,000 federal employees’ hostage as their families and communities fell into crisis.
On January 25, the President announced that he would sign the clean spending bill that Democrats had advocated for since before the shutdown began 35 days prior. The Trump shutdown will go down in history as a waste of time and precious resources that needlessly put hundreds of thousands of American families in peril.
Agencies throughout the government were impacted by the shutdown. For many of them, recovery will not be as easy as simply flipping a switch. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA), responsible for securing our nation’s transportation systems, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), charged with keeping terrorists and illegal goods outside of the United States, and highly trained and skilled Air Traffic Controllers, responsible for ensuring safety in the skies, face new staffing and capacity shortages that will likely endure. For the first time U.S. history, American service members responsible for defending our maritime borders in the U.S. Coast Guard did not get paid. The shutdown impeded F.B.I. efforts to crack down on child trafficking and violent crime, dramatically curtailed inspections of food safety, and forced domestic violence shelters in South Florida, as well as across the country to close their doors.
The nonpartisan CBO projects that the shutdown cost our country $11 billion, including $3 billion that will never be recovered. Please know that I will do everything I can to help mitigate the impacts of the government shutdown and get our country back on the right track.
The 116th Congress
I am grateful to Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership team for appointing me Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Rules for the 116th Congress. Last Congress, we saw the most closed Congress in the history of our country. I intend to use my position on the Committee to help institute a fair and democratic process that helps restore integrity to the House of Representatives. It is also with great pride that I have served as part of the Florida Delegation for the past 26 years, as a Member, Co-Chairman, and now Dean of the Delegation. I look forward to working with my distinguished Co-Chairman, Congressman Vern Buchanan, and my Florida colleagues on a bipartisan basis to ensure Florida receives the vital resources it needs.
Legislation in Focus: Investing in Infrastructure and Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools
In the opening weeks of the 116th Congress, I introduced two measures meant to make important investments in infrastructure and make our schools safer, more welcoming places.
The Build America Act of 2019 would significantly expand and make permanent the BUILD Grant Program and the Capital Improvement Grant (CIG) Program, paving the way for billions of dollars of annual investments nationwide. These merit-based infrastructure grant programs have been utilized by communities across the country for years, allowing them to more easily address their most pressing infrastructure needs. My bill gives these programs the resources they need to ensure every state can get the assistance they need to invest in roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, and public transportation. I look forward to working with my colleagues to safeguard these avenues for funding so that we can start making the investments in infrastructure our country so desperately needs.
I also introduced the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act of 2019, legislation that would prohibit public schools whose personnel inflict physical punishment from receiving federal funding. Still legal in 19 states, corporal punishment resulted in more than 100,000 students being punished physically last year, by being hit, punched, kicked, slapped, or beaten as a form of classroom correction. This form of punishment is disproportionately used against African American students, male students, and students with disabilities and has no place in our modern-day education system. Our schools must be safe places where students can learn free from harm.
Kicking Off the Hastings Winter Internship Program
I am pleased to welcome Jack, Daniel, Lexi, Darci, and Jahnae to my office for my Winter 2019 Internship Program! If you call my office in Washington, you will likely can chat with one of these bright individuals. Working on Capitol Hill is an exciting opportunity and I know they will work hard for the people of South Florida. Do you know someone interested in interning in my office? I am always looking for talented students to intern for me. Please
contact my office in Washington, D.C. for more information. For more information on the various issues that I am working on, visit my official website at www.alceehastings.house.gov. With warm personal regards, I remain,
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress20th District of Florida