Thune and Noem defiant in face of shutdown

2013-10-01T05:30:00Z 2013-10-01T17:01:17Z Thune and Noem defiant in face of shutdownDaniel Simmons-Ritchie Journal staff Rapid City Journal
October 01, 2013 5:30 am  • 

Mount Rushmore will close, certain food assistance programs will stop operating, and 800,000 federal employees across the nation will be furloughed today, after the Republican-controlled House forced the first partial government shutdown in 17 years.

The shutdown came after House Republicans demanded that the Senate, controlled by Democrats, defund or delay parts of President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul in exchange for passage of a bill that would continue government spending. Obama and congressional Democrats have remained steadfast in their refusal to give in to Republican demands.

"One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn't get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election," Obama said Monday in the White House briefing room.

In the hours leading up to the shutdown, South Dakota's congressional Republicans remained defiant, arguing that Democrats were the root of the shutdown because they refused to negotiate.

"House Republicans will continue to do what the American people elected us to do – keep the government open and get rid of Obamacare," U.S. Rep Kristi Noem wrote in a statement, shortly before voting for another bill that would delay aspects of Obama's health care overhaul in exchange for preventing a shutdown.

In a conference call with reporters, U.S. Sen John Thune also accused Obama of failing to "compromise."

"When you have got a divided government, you have got to have a little give and take," he said.

But it's unclear whether Americans will accept that version of events. A pair of polls released on Monday showed that more Americans would blame Republicans if the government shut down.

63 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Republicans were handling the budget impasse, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. In a similar vein, 69 percent of Americans say Republicans are acting like "spoiled children" according to a CNN/ORC International poll.

Today's shutdown will be felt unevenly across government. Some critical services such as patrolling the borders and inspecting meat would continue. Social Security benefits would be sent, and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.

But the shutdown will still have immediate impacts to South Dakota and the rest of the nation.

Maureen McGee-Ballinger, a spokeswoman for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, said that 36 of its 60 employees would be furloughed, forcing it to close until the crisis is resolved.

That means the park will be forced to turn away 5,000 to 7,000 people that would normally visit Mount Rushmore on a fall day.

And while military personnel have been spared from furloughs, the shutdown could impact Ellsworth Air Force Base's 600-odd civilian employees.

"We just don't have the answer right now," said Sgt. John Barton, a spokesman, who added that he couldn't say one way or the other whether there would be furloughs.

Evert Van der Sluis, an economics professor at South Dakota State University, said that however government cuts are implemented, they're bad news for the state economy.

If the shutdown continues through to the end of the year, Van der Sluis said, it is projected to reduce national GDP growth from 1.4 percent to 0.2 percent in the final three months of the year.

"This is going to effect all of us," he said. "There's no doubt about it."


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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