Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) in 2012
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Girl Scouts of America

One year ago today, the federal government came to a dead halt—shut down by the obstructionism of Republicans in Congress.

For more than two weeks, national parks closed, critical medical research stopped and our economy lost billions of dollars.

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American families and small businesses were unable to acquire federal loans and mortgages. Contracts between small businesses and the Department of Defense dropped by almost one-third (pdf), our veterans’ disability claims were stalled and 500,000 workers were sent home without pay, unsure when they could return to work and whether they could make ends meet to provide for their families.

The data confirm what we already knew a year ago: The GOP government shutdown hurt everyday Americans, yet Republicans in Congress want us to forget their irresponsibility. But no American can forget these real costs for American families because the economic impacts were extensive and severe.

Standard & Poor’s Rating Services estimated that the shutdown cost the U.S. economy nearly $24 billion. Our gross domestic product for the fourth quarter of 2013 fell by an estimated 0.2 to 0.6 percentage points, or roughly $2 billion to $6 billion. Republicans—who tout themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility—were willing to risk increasing short-term interest rates and increasing the annual deficit. The Council of Economic Advisers estimated that the combination of government shutdown and debt-limit brinkmanship may have resulted in 120,000 fewer private-sector jobs being created during the first two weeks of October last year, and caused American households and businesses to restrict their spending, harming economic growth.

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Republicans in Congress want us to forget the damage they caused to the reputation of our country abroad, reflecting poorly on the U.S. government’s ability to be a world leader and demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Many Republicans cheered these results, claiming that the government shutdown, despite the harm it did to American families and our economy, was “absolutely” worth it and potentially even worth repeating. The American people disagree, though, and we will not forget.

We are tired of politics by extortion and so-called leaders who are willing to gamble with families’ livelihoods and our country’s economic well-being to achieve their political goals.

American families meet their financial responsibilities, and they expect our government to do the same.

That’s why House Democrats have put forth an agenda to help grow our economy by providing equal pay for equal work, investing in infrastructure to create good jobs here at home, and expanding quality child care and educational opportunities to ensure that everyone has the skills necessary to compete and succeed in a 21st-century economy.

One year ago the American people witnessed stark evidence that today’s GOP, controlling the House of Representatives, has little regard for their values or for ensuring that they have a responsible, functional government. One year later—a little more than a month before Election Day—it is time for Americans to make a change.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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Rep. Donna F. Edwards represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District and is Red to Blue chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Follow her on Twitter.