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Senator Tim Johnson Voices Disdain for Government Shutdown

Government Shutdown Continues
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson has formulated his thoughts regarding the fractured relationship between the parties in Washington D.C.  What follows is the message in its entirety.

Visitors to Mount Rushmore have been turned away. More than 400 civilian employees at Ellsworth Air Force Base have been sent home without pay. South Dakota small businesses relying on federal Small Business Administration loans to grow and create new jobs have been cut off from this credit. USDA offices across the state are shuttered. These are just a few examples of the real, every day impact the government shutdown is having in South Dakota.

Nationwide, the shutdown has resulted in 800,000 federal workers being furloughed, more than 400 national parks and monuments being closed, veterans education and rehabilitation benefits not being processed, and 19,000 children being sent home from Head Start centers. The shutdown is disrupting our recent economic gains. It will cost our economy $10 billion each week the government remains closed. Additionally, a three-to-four week shutdown is projected to slash our country’s GDP by 1.4 percent. For the good of the country, Congress must reach a deal to end the government shutdown.

Last week, the Senate passed a “clean” funding bill to keep the government running through mid-November. This would give Congress time to negotiate a longer-term measure to provide funding certainty through the remainder of the fiscal year. This bill represents a compromise from Senate Democrats and funds the government at spending levels that are closely in line with the House-passed Ryan Budget. Unfortunately, the House has refused  to vote on the Senate bill and has instead attached a controversial policy rider to delay the Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare.”

There isn’t the support in the Senate to approve a policy rider delaying Obamacare, and the President has vowed to veto the House bill. Republicans have made their case against Obamacare legislatively and judicially through the courts, but they have lost the argument each time. The Supreme Court issued its decision, the American people had their voices heard in last November’s election, and Obamacare is moving forward as a result. There is a time and a place to debate policy, but it is reckless to hold our government hostage when one side does not get its way.

We live in a nation where there are checks and balances. Our Founding Fathers created a government designed around the principles of compromise and consensus. Unfortunately, a relatively small minority in the House have abandoned the spirit of compromise, grinding the government to a halt until they get everything they want. This is not the way a democracy works.

South Dakotans are rightfully sick and tired of the gridlock and partisanship in Washington. Our country simply cannot afford to stumble from one manufactured crisis to the next. The American people expect and deserve better. While I believe we can find solutions to contentious issues, it will require compromise and a willingness to work together for the common good. The time has come for the House of Representatives to end the government shutdown and for Congress to get to work on the nation’s business.


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