Our view: Lessons learned from the shutdown
January 29, 2019
Government workers got a reprieve on the day they missed their second paycheck when congressional leaders and President Donald Trump reached a deal that temporarily halted the 35-day shutdown — the longest in the nation's history.
The short-term impasse gives Congress and the president three weeks to come up with a permanent solution, and in the meantime, the approximately 800,000 federal workers who were furloughed or working without pay are back on the job with a promised paycheck after spending the last month dealing with uncertainty and financial strain, wondering how they will pay rent or put food on the table.
Regardless of where our readers stand on the issue of whether or not the federal government should allocate $5.7 billion to fund construction of a physical border wall, we think it's important to recognize that the shutdown affected more than our nation's Capital and had a ripple affect throughout the entire country.
At a glance
At issue: A temporary deal was reached to end the federal government shutdown.
Our View: The 35-day shutdown affected members of our local community and revealed a lot about the current state of our government and our elected leaders in Washington, D.C.
• Logan Molen, publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Mike Burns, community representative
• Melissa Hampton, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@
In Routt County, TSA workers at Yampa Valley Regional Airport stayed on the job even though they weren't getting paid to ensure that people could still travel to and from Steamboat Springs during the busy winter ski season, and employees of the U.S. Forest Service were forced to wait it out, unpaid, while the vast majority of our nearby public lands were left untended.
Those who rely on food stamps — 410 households in Routt County — were also affected by the shutdown, having to apply early for their February benefits with no promise of whether or not March benefits would be processed had the shutdown continued. Officials with LiftUp of Routt County reported an uptick in the number of people turning to local food banks to put food on the table, which was attributed to furloughed workers or families whose food stamps were close to running out.
The government shutdown exposed our country's deep divisions, and for the first time in recent history, an administration used the shutdown as a tool to advance a very narrow agenda. In the past, shutdowns have resulted from general, philosophical disagreements over government spending and government overreach but never have they been used as a weapon to try to fulfill a president's specific campaign promise.
If there's one positive to come out of the shutdown, it's a reminder that federal workers are often vital to our everyday lives — those who work for TSA scanning our bags, so that we can make our next flight, and U.S. Park Service workers, who keep public restrooms clean, take care of trash and help keep our public lands pristine, among many others. These hardworking individuals are no different than the average citizen; they shouldn't have to work without pay, and they should never be used as political pawns in a fight that doesn't involve them.
The reality of the shutdown made us yearn for political leaders who serve altruistically — not for their own personal political ambitions, but for the greater good. American politics has become too polarized, and the shutdown has served to magnify that fact. The leaders of both major political parties seem to have lost their desire to find common ground and lost the art of compromise, which in our eyes, is vital to the very foundation of our democracy.
We are heartened by developments Tuesday that revealed there is a bipartisan effort underway in Congress to introduce legislation that would prevent future government shutdowns. This would definitely be a positive outcome for a difficult start to 2019.