Representative Jeff Fortenberry has a troubling history of supporting default threats and government shutdowns. This is because — despite his effort to portray himself as a moderate — Fortenberry has a consistent history of voting with his party bosses and the most extreme elements in the GOP House caucus. Currently, Fortenberry has voted with Trump 95% of time.
My opponent’s habit of threatening harm to the people he represents in order to pass the GOP’s extreme agenda began with his support of the phony debt ceiling crisis that was ginned up by his party bosses and the Tea Party in 2011. In a press release dated May 31, 2011, Fortenberry stated he would vote against refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless the Congress adopted what he called “budgetary controls to get America’s fiscal house in order.” In other words, Fortenberry was prepared to crash the world economy unless the Democrats agreed to cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other middle class programs.
Fortenberry’s threat in and of itself did serious harm to the American people in 2011. Due to the GOP’s irresponsibility, the economy went from creating 200,000 jobs per month to creating only 100,000 jobs per month. The economy only began creating 200,000 jobs per month (or more) in 2013. Moreover, consumer confidence in 2011 fell to depths not seen since the economic crisis of 2008–09.
The next time Fortenberry and the Congressional Republicans threatened to hurt the American economy was the government shutdown of 2013. This shutdown — which cost the economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs — is a perfect example of how Fortenberry pretends to be a thoughtful moderate while he votes with the Tea Party.
At a town hall meeting held during the run up to the government shutdown in August 2013, Fortenberry stated that he was opposed to a government shutdown. The First District Congressman said that a shutdown would lead to “very significant consequences for the country without accomplishing its goal. “
Mr. Fortenberry broke his word to his constituents and voted on September 20, 2013 to shutdown the government. This shutdown was aimed at defunding the Affordable Care Act and taking away health insurance from millions of Americans. Moreover, during this 16 day government shutdown, Fortenberry was never on the list of House Republicans who favored a clean continuing resolution and he never called for an up or down vote on this legislation that would have re-opened the government.
Once this deeply misguided government shutdown came to a conclusion, Fortenberry pretended that he had opposed it all along. As a matter of fact, he issued a statement claiming after that he “did not favor shutting down the government.” Subsequently, about a year later during the 2014 campaign, Fortenberry told the Omaha World Herald that: “The consequence of shutting down the government was not healthy.” What that means is that Fortenberry was for the shutdown before he was against it!
Despite the harm inflicted by the 2013 government shutdown, Fortenberry continued to support government shutdowns during the 2015–16 session of Congress. On both January 14 and March 3, 2015, Fortenberry voted to shutdown the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over an unrelated immigration issue even though the U.S. was being threatened with terrorist attacks.
Fortenberry’s two votes to shutdown DHS over a partisan dispute with President Obama were especially reckless since a shutdown of that agency could slow down or weaken a U.S. response to a terrorist attack. The second vote to shutdown DHS came at a time when the Mall of America in Minneapolis was threatened with an attack by a radical Islamist group. Despite that threat to the Midwest, Fortenberry defended his votes by saying that: “The House of Representatives has done the right thing here. We’ve stood on principle.”
We could be facing another government shutdown and default threat when Fortenberry and the Congress return from their undeserved vacation on September 5. The Congress must raise the debt ceiling and fund the government by the end of September. In addition, the Congress will have to pass an aide package for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Already, Trump has threatened a government shutdown unless the U.S. taxpayers fund his unnecessary wall with Mexico. Originally, Trump promised that Mexico would be paying for the wall. At the same time, members of the extreme House Freedom Caucus have said they won’t raise the debt ceiling unless large cuts to programs that benefit working families and the poor are attached to the legislation.
Fortenberry’s previous record on hurricane relief is every bit as disturbing as his past support for default threats and government shutdowns. In a House roll call vote on May 21, 2013, Fortenberry voted with the extremists in the House GOP caucus against relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Now many of those radicals who voted with Fortenberry to deny help to their fellow Americans are begging the taxpayers for help for the victims of the flooding in Texas and Louisiana.
It is now time for Mr. Fortenberry to tell his constituents how he plans to vote in September. These are important votes. We are now owed answers. The time for silence is over.
It is evident that Fortenberry and the all GOP government in Washington is a failure. Did anybody vote for this mess and dysfunction last November? I’m running for Congress because Fortenberry and Trump are taking us in the wrong direction. If you want different results out of Washington, you will have to vote for different people. We can do better!