Congress: Take a Page from Cities and Lead

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This post was written by Clarence Anthony, Executive Director of the National League of Cities.

This government shutdown is appalling.

First, we hoped it wouldn’t happen and that Congress would arrive at a common sense solution at the last minute. Now, we simply hope it won’t last too long.

This is government by manufactured crisis, and it’s not how cities govern, that’s for sure. The federal government would do well to take a page, or at this point a chapter, from cities’ books on how to lead.

The two chambers of Congress remain at a standoff, leaving federal government operations at a standstill and more than 800,000 people furloughed.  Being out of work, whether it’s for a few days or a few weeks puts hardworking American families in a perilous position. Some will not be able to pay their mortgage, or will have to choose between paying bills and putting food on the table.

Throughout all this, cities are doing the necessary work to keep our country moving forward.

However, many cities are in a fragile economic recovery period, one that could easily be stalled by the economic fallout from a federal shutdown. Depending on how long the shutdown continues, cities are facing the possibility of having to spend down reserve funds, pare back programs, and reduce services even more than they already have over the last four years.

No matter how you feel about the health care law, we cannot have the budget process hijacked by this political theater, especially at a time when cities are starting to get back on their feet, so to speak, after being knocked down by the Great Recession, not to mention sequestration. Families should not have to suffer because a select few Congressmen seek to gain politically from this manufactured crisis.

NLC is calling on Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution that will fund the federal government through fiscal year 2014.

Cities Lead

Regardless of the inexcusable behavior of Washington politicians, cities will continue to lead, balancing budgets, listening to the concerns of their residents, and coming up with solutions to make the places that we live and work better for all citizens, regardless of political stripe.

This strong leadership also means taking action to change the unfortunate situation we have found ourselves in. Call your Members of Congress today – put them on speed dial and call their cell phones – because many of them have sent home their aides and assistants.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and unfortunately it appears it’s going to take longer than that to get Congress to pass a budget and do what they were elected to do – govern this great country.

It’s going to take pressure from you to make that happen. Call your Congressperson now.


About the author: Clarence Anthony is the Executive Director of the National League of Cities.  Follow Clarence on Twitter at @ceanthony50.