NewDEAL Leaders Across the Country Call on Congress to Fund the Government, Avoid Shutdown

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NewDEAL Leaders Across the Country Call on Congress to
Fund the Government, Avoid Shutdown

Washington, DC (November 14, 2023)– With a new federal government shutdown looming, NewDEAL Leaders – a selective network of 200 state and local Democratic leaders – today called upon Congress to avoid an unnecessary and harmful government shutdown now or in the coming months by reaching a federal spending agreement in line with the deal made during the debt ceiling negotiations from earlier this year. 

“It’s vital for Congress to do its job and fund the government to avoid a catastrophic shutdown,” said NewDEAL CEO Debbie Cox Bultan. “A shutdown would have devastating and far-reaching consequences for state and local services and everyday families who depend on a functioning federal government. The health of our economy is at stake. This is a political game we just can’t afford. That’s why NewDEAL is calling on Congress to follow through on its commitments over the summer, quickly reach a responsible funding agreement, and get back to the business of serving the American people.”

NewDEAL’s state and local leaders have worked tirelessly to advance pragmatic, pro-growth policies that accelerate economic progress, improve infrastructure, and expand affordable housing using federal investments – but the political dysfunction in Washington threatens to slow down this critical work, from state houses to city councils and beyond.

Here’s what NewDEAL Leaders are saying about a potential government shutdown:

Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond, VA:

“Cities can’t shut down. Failure to fund the government would be devastating for Richmonders – especially Richmonders who are most in need of social services. In Richmond, tens of thousands of residents rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and other federal benefits programs – all of which could be directly affected by a government shutdown. Shutting down the government is a dangerous risk, a risk Richmonders can’t afford. …Congress needs to leave the politics at the door and do its job to avoid a shutdown. Not for the sake of themselves, but for the sake of tens of thousands of Richmonders that would be directly impacted by Congress’ inaction.” 

Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Milwaukee, WI:

“Congress has got to act to make sure there is no government shutdown. Here in Milwaukee, there are a number of Social Security offices and people who rely on Social Security who don’t want interruptions to the services that people receive. What’s more, the U.S. Foreign Service just recently opened an office right here in the city of Milwaukee. We don’t want that office to be shuttered. We don’t want the people who earn wages working for the federal government to not be able to get those dollars, bring them home, and spend those dollars in our economy, supporting jobs on the ground in Milwaukee. There’s a lot at stake if there’s a government shutdown and we don’t want negative things to happen to our economy or our people. Congress, you’ve got to act to make sure there is no government shutdown.”

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico:

“Coming from a state that is hugely dependent on the federal government for a significant part of our economy, between our national laboratories, our Armed Forces bases, and other agencies based [in New Mexico], not only would a shutdown affect the entire country but real people who live and work here. We have a lot of wonderful things about the state of New Mexico but also a lot of challenges. The economic impact to our states in particular – or any state – that really, truly relies on the federal government for a significant aspect of its economy and for those individuals who are employed by the federal government, could be potentially devastating. If for no other reason than thinking about the people – the mothers, the fathers, the children who are caring for parents — who are going to be directly impacted in the ability to sustain their livelihoods, there are so many reasons [to avoid a shutdown], but that is a big one here for our state.”

State Senator Phil Olaleye, District 59, GA:

“The most direct impact [of a government shutdown] is to those Georgians who could potentially be out of work or furloughed. It’s not enough to say back pay will be provided. That provides very little solace to a hardworking Georgian who has very real, tangible needs today — those are the direct impacts. The indirect impacts are the several hundred thousand veterans and other Georgians who depend on services and support from the federal government, auxiliary agencies, and departments. They now have the potential to face backlogs and delays for very real, tangible needs and services that they cannot wait on. Congress has to lead. People sent them there to get things done, not to bicker and fight amongst themselves. [They should] understand what’s at stake and make sure those services and resources that Georgians need and deserve aren’t threatened or jeopardized because of their unwillingness to act.”

State Representative Janell Bynum, District 39, OR:

“As a small business owner, I would never expect my employees — my team — to work without pay. As a mom and an elected leader, I would never refuse to show up or keep my promises for my family or my community. I hold the federal government to the same standard. We all should.

All our constituents and neighbors are asking for is a functioning government. That shouldn’t be viewed as an unrealistic aspiration, nor should it be used as a political bargaining chip; it’s the bare minimum of our responsibility as elected officials. The more time we spend holding our breath — waiting to see if our teachers, our veterans, our public servants get the resources they need — the less time we have to wrestle with the larger challenges we collectively face…Republicans in Washington, D.C., should take a lesson from Oregon’s walkout: we need you to show up, engage in healthy and respectful debate on the tough challenges you were elected to address and ensure, at a minimum, a government that functions on behalf of the people. We can and must do better.” 

We in Oregon have dealt with shutdowns pretty much my entire tenure here in the legislature. The most important thing that I’ve learned is that everyone needs to stay at the table. More importantly, I would say it’s crucial that we elect people who are interested in progress. Americans have a choice, and to be complacent and allow things to play out in Washington, D.C., and not hold people accountable invites more dysfunction. For me, it’s always been about making sure we have really good relationships in the legislature, making sure that I’m very clear about my intentions, and working to focus on our values as Oregonians and as Americans. Those are the things that will get us unstuck – but it’s really disheartening to watch the chaos in D.C.”

State Senator Chris Hansen, District 31, CO

“A federal shutdown would have a serious impact on my community. Denver is not only a place where there’s a lot of direct federal employment and big national labs like NREL and NOAA, but we’ve also got lots of retirees who are going to be depending on their Social Security checks. This is very much a kitchen table issue for a place like Denver and is going to have a negative impact. We absolutely must avoid a government shutdown — it would be a huge mistake for the country and would hurt us at the local level significantly. At the state government level, we’ve been working hard to look at ways we can mitigate this damage if it does happen, and unfortunately, the chances of that look like it’s going up by the day with the new leadership in the House. We’ve had state employees backfill some of the important federal services — we keep our national parks open, which is a big lynchpin of tourism in Colorado. This is a really important issue for Denver and across the country. I fervently hope we can avoid that outcome.”

State Representative Leonela Felix, District 61, RI:

“The impact in terms of a government shutdown can be really bad for our communities. In particular, my district is mostly an older community that relies on different benefits [programs]. If the government were to shut down, we know that eventually those funds will dry out and our communities are going to be affected. If they don’t have the funds to access services or they don’t have the funds to just pay for their basic necessities, it’s going to create a ripple effect where other areas of our community are going to be impacted – like food banks that are already burdened. [A shutdown] has so many trickle-down effects – it’s just not something we can afford. People are already struggling right now; they don’t need that additional burden.” 

Mayor Aftab Pureval, Cincinnati, OH:

“While some in Congress continue to play political theater and hold our federal government hostage, one thing remains true: cities don’t have the option to shut down. Cincinnati, like cities across the nation, has families who depend on essential federal services. This game of legislative chicken has real consequences.” 


About NewDEAL

The NewDEAL brings together leaders focused on expanding opportunity, helping them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is equitable and sustainable. Most importantly, the organization facilitates the exchange of ideas among its members and connects them with other pro-growth progressive political, policy, and private-sector leaders. Learn more about the NewDEAL and its members by visiting