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Our View: Shutdown season more tiresome than pumpkin spice

Effects would ripple through Southwest

It’s becoming a seasonal thing. In addition to leaf-peeping and sweaters coming out of closets and pumpkin-spice everything, it’s government shutdown season with the deadline on Saturday, the end of the fiscal year. Congress must decide how to appropriate funding for the government by Sunday.

A shutdown is a tired strategy with effects rippling through Southwest Colorado. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers across the U.S. deemed nonessential would be furloughed and unpaid until Congress reopens the government.

Yet, members of Congress would continue to receive paychecks. How ridiculous is this?

We’re happy to hear U.S. Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District introduced the MCCARTHY Shutdown Act to stop members’ pay during a shutdown. Note, the uppercase letters of MCCARTHY, an acronym for My Constituents Cannot Afford Rebellious Tantrums, Handle Your (MCCARTHY) Shutdown Act. It’s awkward and doesn’t roll off the tongue as they say, but it got our attention.

Drama in D.C. may seem far away, but decisions affect key workers locally. Just the threat of a shutdown weighs on constituents. This bothers us.

Child care through Head Start in Durango, Cortez, Mancos, Dolores and Pagosa Springs could be affected. Parents may have to scramble or miss work. This is detrimental to our local workforce.

At the Durango-La Plata County Airport, Transportation Security Administration workers wouldn’t receive regular pay until the government reopens, yet they’re expected to report to work. During a shutdown in December 2018, workers at major municipal airports called in sick rather than work without pay. If the shutdown happens, expect that TSA line at Denver International Airport to wrap and weave, with the likelihood of missed flights. Not a great time for airline travel.

For visitors planning trips to Mesa Verde National Park or Chaco Canyon during the coming crispness and briskness of fall, forget it. U.S. parks and museums would be closed.

A shutdown is crummy for our country’s credit, too, with rating agency Moody’s warning coming a little too soon after the debt ceiling crisis and still within the throes of inflation.

Enough drama. This threat is over what amounts to only 10% of the federal budget. A shutdown is destabilizing. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s next best step is to work with Democrats on a continuing resolution to keep the government running until December, while lawmakers work on and advance a 2024 budget.

No doubt, McCarthy’s in an unenviable spot. But the only viable choice is a 30-day extension of federal funding to keep the U.S. government open and functional. He would be putting Americans first. Right where we should rank.

It’s a shame that a closed government is looking more likely by the day. Especially with the latest surge of migrants – mostly Venezuelans – over the U.S./Mexico border, a sticking point of House holdouts that shines light on the Biden administration’s questionable border policies.

In 2017, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet did well representing us with a resolution to keep the government open. It’s a reminder of one 2024 election question for candidates – how do they feel about the politics of shutdowns?

It’s not right for working people to go without paychecks – maybe even military personnel. Economic growth will slow, and Colorado families and businesses will pay the price.

But, again, not Congressional members. Not the architects of the shutdown.

In a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, about six in 10 American adults (58%) called a shutdown a “very serious problem.” Democrats and Independents are far more likely than Republicans to say this (79% vs. 35%). Within the GOP, the survey found 47% of moderate Republicans consider the shutdown a very serious problem, but only 27% of conservative Republicans do.

No matter where you are on the shutdown divide, we know one thing. We’re definitely more tired of shutdown season than we are pumpkin spice.