WASHINGTON (Oct. 11, 2013) — A coalition of consumer groups have sent an open letter to all members of Congress, urging a quick end to the ongoing government shutdown for the sake of public safety.
"Consumers rely on the government to ensure the safety of the food they eat, the air they breathe, the products they use, the care they drive and the planes on which they fly," the Oct. 11 letter said. "Many of these consumer protections have been significantly curtailed as a result of the shutdown."
For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has furloughed 333 of its 597 employees, according to the letter.
"As a result, NHTSA is not able to alert consumers about recalls," it said. "Rule-makings, defect investigations, research and testing is (sic) also on hold."
Similarly, the Environmental Protection Agency has laid off 15,592 of 16,205 employees; the Federal Trade Commission, 937 of 1,178 employees; and the Federal Aviation Administration, 15,514 of 46,070 employees, the letter said.
Signatory organizations to the letter included Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, Consumer Action, the National Consumer Law Center, Public Citizen, the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
The group's letter was published as President Obama and Republican House leaders began talks to end the budget impasse that caused a partial government shutdown and threatened the first default on the national debt in U.S. history.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were furloughed Oct. 1 after the Senate and the White House refused to agree to House-approved budget resolutions that called for the defunding of the Affordable Care Act. If there is no agreement on raising the federal debt ceiling by Oct. 17, the federal government will default on its debts, an event that most observers believe would send the U.S., and probably the rest of the world, back into recession.
Among the proposals being discussed in the talks is one by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who wants to extend the nation’s borrowing authority through Nov. 22. That deal, however, would be contingent on the White House agreeing to negotiate further federal spending cuts.
President Obama said he planned to meet with Senate leaders Oct. 11 on the government shutdown and the debt ceiling.