House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a direct appeal Monday to state lawmakers to convince Republican senators to drop their obstruction of initiatives aimed at shoring up state and local economies nationwide.
Senate Democrats repeatedly attempted to pass legislation to provide federal subsidies to help states struggling with dramatic losses in a tax revenue, which in turn, threatens economic recovery nationwide, according to analysts.
Specific provisions include so-called FMAP funding to help states support their Medicaid health programs, legislation aimed at preventing teacher layoffs, and a “comprehensive jobs bill,” Pelosi says.
Despite GOP objection, Pelosi says Democrats’ legislation is “paid for,” in other words it would not add to the federal budget deficit or debt.
Senate Republicans consistently upheld filibusters of such legislation, however. Democrats stripped out these aid initiatives in order to pass a much more narrow extension of unemployment benefits for the nation’s jobless.
“America’s state legislators and governors have been clear that one of the best ways Congress can help the budgetary crises our states are facing is enhanced FMAP funding. That’s because it is fungible and flexible,” Pelosi says. “Enhanced FMAP has been both an opportunity and a challenge for you. When Congress included $87 billion in enhanced FMAP investments in the Recovery Act, it helped keep cops on the beat and teachers in the classroom and helped address the health needs of your constituents. Many of your state budgets have been predicated on continued enhanced FMAP funding.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) last month noted that 47 of the nation’s governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, support further federal FMAP funding to help their states deal with the ongonig deep economic downtown.
FMAP support helps states beyond Medicaid, according to at least one recent study. It helps states avoid layoffs across the board, including teachers and other jobs. In all, nearly 1 million jobs nationwide could be at risk without further federal funding to state governments, the study says.
Separately, several prominent House Democrats, including at least one top Pelosi lieutentant, are scheduled to appear in a press event on Capitol Hill to release a joint report from the National League of Cities, United States Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties illustrating the economies of local governments have hit a crisis point, forcing significant layoffs and cuts in support services for families and individuals.
With FMAP funding stalled in the Senate, at least some Republicans must be convinced to support it so as to overcome a filibuster, the speaker says.
The California Democrat on Monday addressed attendees at the 36th annual legislative summit for the National Conference of States Legislatures (NCSL) in Louisville, Ky. The NCSL summit brings together government officials, legislative staffers, and union and businesses representatives.
“You are the most eloquent and persuasive voices on this subject; you know best why this is necessary. I urge you to tell Republicans in the Senate about the real cost to your communities of their opposition – cuts to hospitals, nursing homes, and public safety, elimination of domestic violence and homelessness initiatives, and slashed budgets for mental health and child welfare services,” Pelosi says. “We will only be able to ensure an extension of enhanced FMAP funding with your strong advocacy. This will not happen without Republican support, and I welcome any suggestions you have to reach out to those Republican senators who oppose the efforts to extend enhanced FMAP. We must pass FMAP.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.