Here’s our message to Congress and President Donald Trump: Stop the shutdown.
We’re now well into the longest government shutdown in history — and leaving politics aside, it’s harming families; it’s harming industry; it’s hurting the economy; it’s making us a laughingstock around the globe. Stop the political infighting; compromise and find a solution that is both affordable (given our out-of-control deficit spending) and secure.
While the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have their operational funds for 2019, many government agencies do not. How long do we expect Transportation Security Administration workers to stay on the job with no pay? How long do we think the Environmental Protection Agency can operate? The FBI?
Colorado’s military bases won’t see furloughs, but that doesn’t mean the economy isn’t feeling the effects of the shutdown.
The U.S. Department of the Interior has 6,500 employees furloughed in Colorado. These are the people who take care of national parks, the Bureau of Land Management wilderness areas, the Bureau of Reclamation’s water conservation and hydroelectric programs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors earthquakes from Golden.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture furloughed 3,600 people working in food safety, animal and plant health inspections, loans and grants that create jobs in the state’s rural areas and assistance programs under the Farm Bill. All are on hold, held hostage to the whims of politicians who’d rather call names and point fingers than do the jobs they were elected to do. So, the next time you sit down to eat — remember, someone may not have inspected that food in order to keep our supplies safe.
Other people working without pay: 1,100 Federal Aviation and Transportation Administration employees at the state’s nine airports. About 1,000 people at federal laboratories are working but not receiving paychecks, including at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
And about 500 people are working without pay at the state’s six federal prisons. Think about that: Colorado is home to SuperMax, which houses some of the most dangerous criminals in the nation. Do we really want those guards to go without pay? It’s a tough job; Let’s compensate them for it.
The Denver Post estimates the state is losing $201 million every month (and yes, we’re now talking about the shutdown in terms of months). That’s a lot of cash, a lot of people not working, not spending and a lot of work not getting done. The study includes monthly income from federal salaries and the hit from a loss of benefits from the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — that alone equals about $55 million a month.
It’s time to end the shutdown. Quit playing politics with people’s lives.
Farmers need the federal loans; families need food security. Prison guards need to get paid, as do the people making sure that flights are safe from terrorist attacks.
And if it continues, estimates are that the shutdown will end up costing about $37 per resident per month.
It’s the second hit in just a few months for the state’s farmers, who saw prices drop and overseas orders dry up when the president launched his trade war with the rest of the world. And irrigation projects — needed in the dry climate — are on hold because no employees of the National Resources Conservation Services are working.
Even the state’s craft breweries are hurting. To sell beer out of state, they need permits from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Guess who’s not on the job during the shutdown? So breweries wait for permits to expand business and their products go unsold.
It’s past time for both parties to put aside political gamesmanship, to stop embarrassing our country. It’s past time to end the government shutdown.