DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado’s Congressional delegation talked about the federal government shutdown at Denver International Airport on Monday morning, where hundreds of TSA employees are still working without pay. They say there is a plan to get the government running again, but say Republican leadership won’t let that happen.
Sen. Michael Bennet joined other Democrat representatives in Congress to talk about the solution being considered in Congress. He was joined by Rep. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, Jason Crow and Joe Neguse.
“This is a travesty what our country is facing right now. There’s no reason why this government should be shut down over the president’s temper tantrums. It’s now been 24 days, that’s a record. We’ve got employees all over Colorado, on the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains that are out of work because of what he has done. I just met somebody a minute ago at air traffic control who worked throughout the holidays and on Friday received a paycheck for 77 cents. Every single person who is down there, working and checking these bags, is working without a salary because of what’s happened in Washington. This is something that Congress could solve today,” said Bennet.
Bennet says there’s a way to solve this without Pres. Donald Trump.
“Mitch McConnell should put a bill on the floor that the Senate has voted for unanimously, and reopen the government. And if the president vetoes it, the House of Representatives would override that veto tomorrow and the United States Senate would override it the day after that. While the United States has shutdown, China has landed a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon and is doing all kinds of things to fill the vacuum that we have left,” said Bennet. “This is a self-inflicted wound by the President of the United States and it should end.”
DeGette says the shutdown isn’t just affecting the federal workers, but the safety of every single passenger flying through the airport.
“The House has passed legislation which was previously passed by the U.S. Senate. The Republican Senate has already passed this, the House has passed this, Mitch McConnell could bring it up today, it could pass, we could reopen the government today. Your House delegation is going from this press conference to fly back to Washington D.C. and demand just that. It’s getting to the point where it’s way beyond the issue of Donald Trump and his wall. It’s getting to the point of the safety of every single passenger who is flying through this airport,” said DeGette.
Lawmakers have heard from constituents who are taking out loans, considering new jobs and fearing for their health while the government works toward a compromise.
“I’ve seriously started thinking about not working for the government. At this point, it’s starting to become an unreliable employer. One of the reasons why I joined the government was for the stability and the benefits. I have two special needs kids to support. I can’t be out of work without a paycheck,” said EPA employee Sherrie Kinard.
“In my district, we have thousands and thousands of federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay. IRS agents, EPA, NREL, we have thousands of employees who are serving this country and we need to get this government back open,” said Perlmutter. “The president obviously has thrown several temper tantrums now about border security and we’re all about border security. We’ll sit down and work it out with him. But it’s got to be his way or the highway at the expense of federal employees.”
Neguse talked about the shutdown and how it is impacting a big tourist attraction in his district: Rocky Mountain National Park.
“Rocky Mountain National Park is effectively closed. You have over 100 workers who are furloughed and those who are working are working without pay. Literally plowing day in and day out without a paycheck,” said Neguse. “You have TSA workers here at the airport, TSA workers just below us, who are working without pay.”
Crow wanted to talk about veterans which he made a commitment to during his campaign for the 6th Congressional District.
“One in five of the federal workers who are impacted by this shutdown are veterans. An estimated 20,000 veterans in Colorado who are impacted or could be impacted by SNAP funding as well. We have a solemn and sacred obligation to our nation’s veterans to protect their families. These are folks who took off the uniform after having served this country honorably, and decided to go back in to service for our nation and for our community,” said Crow.
Trump is locked in an impasse with congressional Democrats. He has demanded $5.7 billion in wall funding. Democrats, who oppose the wall as immoral and wasteful, have called on him to reopen the government while border negotiations continue.