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“Congressional Tea Party Republicans have chosen to play games with the lives of our most vulnerable in society to score ideological political points,” said Mary Kusler, NEA’s director of government relations, in a statement. “They have forced deep sequester cuts, shut down the government and are on the brink of bringing the nation’s economy to its knees. Students and senior citizens will pay the price for years to come as a result. It’s time for the games to end.”

The NEA notes that sequestration has made deep cuts into federal education programs, affecting many students who are in need. The government shutdown hasn’t helped either, taking away funding from initiatives like Head Start.

“Congress needs to find a responsible, balanced and permanent approach to avoid inflicting further pain on students, families and communities while demanding the rich and corporations pay their fair share,” Kusler said.

The campaign arm for House Republicans quickly fired back.

“It is disappointing that union bosses have put women and children in the middle of Democrats' partisan political games,” said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“House Republicans passed legislation this week that would continue funding Head Start. Maybe these union bosses should focus their attention on the 166 House Democrats that voted against the million-plus low-income women and children who are enrolled in Head Start.”

— This story was updated at 11:46 a.m.