Bustos Votes Against
Continuing Resolution, Delays Thomson Prison Opening
By TOM KOCAL | Prairie Advocate News
September 20, 2013 – Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) led a group of 37 members of the U.S. House of Representative in calling for veterans to be protected in the event of a “politically induced” government shutdown. By voting against the Continuing Resolution, the opening of the Thomson Prison by 2015 may be jeopardized.
The Continuing Resolution (CR) passed 230-189 with a nearly party-line vote. A single Republican, Scott Rigell of Virginia, voted no. Two Democrats, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah, voted in favor.
“This area has been hearing about this prison for 16 years . . . and it is still not open,” Bustos said at a September 6 meeting in Thomson. “This is a priority.”
At the meeting U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) agreed that federal officials remain committed to opening the vacant prison, but securing funding remains a key obstacle in getting the facility up and running.
Durbin confirmed that the project is currently “on hold,” until a “full year budget” is passed.
“I want to give you all a ‘heads-up’ about this situation . . . until we have an agreement between the House, the Senate, and the President, about the budget for the next year, we’re going to be ready, but not in a position to spend money” to open the prison.
In a letter sent to President Obama on Thursday, before the 9/20 CR vote, Bustos and her colleagues requested that the President protect the benefits and resources our nation has promised to Veterans by deeming certain U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees as “essential” in the event that Congress can’t come together and prevent a government shutdown.
Republican House leadership is apparently attempting to use funding the U.S. government as leverage to defund Obamacare. Friday’s vote on a CR which includes a provision to defund Obamacare will more than likely be voted down by the Democrat-led Senate. Without an agreement, the necessary funding to keep the government functioning, as well as funding the prison opening, will end as of Sept. 30.
“Cheri Bustos claims that the Thomson Prison is her priority, but when she had the chance to vote to fund the prison she instead voted to shut down the government,” said Katie Prill, Spokeswoman for the National Republican Central Committee. “It’s shameful that Cheri would rather play politics than fund a prison which would create good, well-paying jobs for the folks in her district. This is proof that Cheri cares more about pleasing Washington bureaucrats than doing what’s right for her constituents.”
Prill added there is another aspect to the Bustos vote. “With this vote, Cheri Bustos reaffirmed her commitment to ObamaCare above all else. Rather than work to pass a common sense solution to fund our government, Bustos would rather shut it down to protect Obama’s devastating health care law.
“Cheri Bustos should be ashamed of her vote. If she thinks saving ObamaCare and shutting down the government will resonate with voters in 2014, then please—hit the campaign trail.”
Former U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Colona) said that Rep. Bustos’ vote to shut down the government was reckless and irresponsible. Schilling is seeking another term and is running against Bustos.
Shilling said Bustos voted to create unprecedented uncertainty on both Wall Street and Main Street, presumably in an effort to impress her radical base.
“Members of Congress have a responsibility to govern, and that means putting people before politics. A government shutdown in the midst of a shaky economic recovery would be absolutely devastating. It’s disappointing that Rep. Bustos is so eager to put this nation’s economic security at risk in order to make a political point to her wealthy liberal friends in Washington.”
This is not the first time Bustos has threatened a government shutdown in order to get her way. While running for Congress in 2011, Bustos told the media that she could not support a debt deal to avoid default unless it raised taxes.
“Rep. Bustos has a troubling history of wanting to shut down the government in order to push an out-of-touch political agenda,” Schilling said. “She previously advocated default in order to raise taxes, and now she’s voting to shut the government down just to fast-track Obamacare. This is reckless and irresponsible. I can tell you that her constituents won’t be happy to hear that she would rather protect Obamacare than protect our military’s livelihood or our seniors’ Social Security.”