SOUTH LOOP — The mayor hammered Congress again over the government shutdown on Monday, but then expanded his criticism to comprise childhood education and the U.S. military.
At a South Loop news conference Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city has been for the most part untouched by the shutdown. "We're doing what we're supposed to do, the city, from a public-safety point of view," Emanuel said.
"I would like to draw one contrast over the weekend," Emanuel added. "The United States government took action in both Somalia and Libya in our national interest. As you notice, the United States Congress wasn't involved. So any time the U.S. Congress gets involved, the works get gummed up."
Emanuel was referring to U.S. military raids announced over the weekend on al-Qaida targets in Libya and Somalia.
He also used the shutdown to lash Congress over years of diminishing federal funding for children, especially school programs such as Head Start, pre-kindergarten and afterschool programs.
"The federal government has been on a slow-motion shutdown as it relates to children," Emanuel said. He added that the city has increasingly taken up the slack in investing in children.
"I think it's reckless," Emanuel said of the shutdown. "I think it's irresponsible."
Emanuel said the city was working to make up short-term shortfalls on federally funded programs such as Meals on Wheels for senior citizens. Yet he warned that, if the shutdown drags on, it "will have an impact at some point."