Senate Democrats on Friday voted to shut down the federal government. Their reason? They believe illegal immigration is more important than the American people. They have been trying to link amnesty for people who came here illegally with keeping the government open. Their misguided priorities will kick 9 million children, including 24,000 in Montana, off their health insurance and hurt our troops.

The impact of Senate Democrats’ actions is massive. More than 2 million members of our military will not be paid until the shutdown ends. About 100,000 national guardsmen will be sent home from training. Pilot training will be stopped, reducing our military’s readiness. Training will be canceled for tens of thousands of reservists. Fifty percent of the federal government’s civilian workforce will be furloughed.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer along with other Senate Democrats led us off this cliff, creating the Schumer shutdown.

I voted to keep the government open. It was an easy vote to take, because keeping the government open is my job and it is the right thing to do for Montana and our country. I have voted twice to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program — once on November 3, 2017 and again last week — so that 24,000 Montana kids keep their health insurance and their access to health care.

All my efforts are focused on getting our government open again, getting out troops paid, and getting health insurance for 9 million American children reauthorized.

Due to the severity of the impact on our troops, I have instructed the appropriate officials to withhold my pay until our troops get paid again. That is just fair. Politicians should not be getting paychecks while our troops and children suffer because of Washington political games.

It is also why I am cosponsoring the Pay Our Protectors, Not Our Politicians Act. The bill would ensure that America’s troops and national security employees within the Department of Homeland Security get paid during a government shutdown. The bill would also prohibit members of Congress from taking pay during a federal shutdown.

Schumer has claimed he made a proposal to President Trump to avoid this shutdown, but his proposal would have given citizenship to 9 million individuals who came here illegally and dramatically expanded welfare programs by $50 billion. It was a non-starter. It was no deal at all.

Schumer and Senate Democrats have made their misguided priorities clear. They have put illegal immigration ahead of keeping the federal government open, paying our troops, and keeping 24,000 Montana kids healthy.

Washington is broken. Montana needs strong leadership there that will protect our precious way of life from political games and federal overreach. Washington is long on progressive ideologies and short on common-sense business experience. I am proud to be your sole voice in the U.S. House of Representatives, and it is an honor to serve you. I will continue serving as your strong voice as we work to reopen the government and pay our troops, reversing Senate Democrats’ reckless Schumer shutdown.

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte lives in Bozeman and is seeking re-election this November.

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