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Shutdown gets local response

Congressman Buck McKeon vows to vote to end U.S. government’s stall; officials say city will not be

Posted: October 2, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 2, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Visitors arrived to find “CLOSED” signs at the Statue of Liberty, the Smithsonian and other parks and historic sites across the country. Callers looking for help from the government reached only voicemail. And federal employees were left to wonder when they would return to work.

The first government shutdown in 17 years took hold Tuesday in ways large and small.

About 800,000 federal employees were sent home — a number greater than the combined U.S. workforces of Target, General Motors, Exxon and Google. First slowed, then stalled by political gridlock, the vast machinery of government clanged into partial shutdown mode on Tuesday and President Barack Obama warned the longer it goes “the more families will be hurt.”

Ominously, there were suggestions from leaders in both parties that the shutdown, heading for its second day, could last for weeks and grow to encompass a possible default by the Treasury if Congress fails to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. The two issues are “now all together,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, said he has no idea how long the shutdown will last.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “This is worse than anything I’ve seen in my 21 years here.”

McKeon was in Congress the last time the government was shut down in the mid-1990s. But he said Tuesday that shutdown was fairly limited, covering only a few spending areas, as opposed to the most recent shutdown during which the parties have scarcely been able to come to terms on anything.

“It’s bad to have any kind of shutdown, and the longer it goes the worse it gets,” McKeon said.

McKeon criticized Senate Democrats for their “arrogance” and said he thinks they were unwilling to negotiate. He also said he thinks Republican demands to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, are reasonable.

But despite all that, McKeon said he would support a continuing resolution to fund the government without any movement on Obamacare should Republican leadership bring such a motion up for a vote.

“Yes, I will vote for a clean CR (continuing resolution) if it goes to the floor,” McKeon said.

Lee Rogers, a Simi Valley Democrat who is running against McKeon in the 2014 election, accused McKeon of playing politics.

“It is time Congressman McKeon stops his partisan games and listens to the people in his district,” Rogers said. “If he does this, he will stop the process of governing by crisis and vote to pass a clean budget resolution, re-opening the government so the needs of millions of Americans will be met.”

A Santa Clarita official said the shutdown should have no immediate effect on the city.

“We don’t anticipate any direct affect for the city of Santa Clarita as a result of the federal shutdown,” said spokesman Evan Thomason.

“For the city, it’s business as usual for the near future. We’ll continue to monitor the situation, but all of our services, projects and programs remain uninterrupted.”


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