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Government shutdown impacts Prince George's residents

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Published on: Friday, October 18, 2013

By Tracey Gold Bennett, Special to The Sentinel

The government shutdown ended but effects may still be lingering for furloughed federal government employees and businesses that depend on their patronage. On Oct. 17, for first time in two weeks seats on the MARC train to Union Station were filled, a sign that workers were free to return to work.

Donald Bronson of Glenn Dale, Md. works for the Department of Veteran Affairs. On Thursday he boarded the MARC train and headed back to Washington, D.C. for work after the two-week long furlough.

"I really don't believe that furloughs like this should be forced on the government, I understand the rationale and the limits on spending but my problem is with Congress and why we haven't had a budget for year after year. I can't run my household that way, why should they run the federal government that way? There should be some penalties against those members of congress that don’t do their jobs,” he said. “If they can't put a budget in maybe they should get put out."

Bronson, a veteran of the Air Force works with emergency preparedness communications at the Department of Veterans Affairs and said Congress should have compromised sooner.

"They need to get this thing together so we never ever get this far. This is a very poor example of democracy at its worst; it doesn't show that we can interact and compromise because it was a lack of compromising on both parties,” said Bronson. “Both parties had a reason for their stand.... I'm a conservative myself and I understand some of the reason the republicans stood as long as they could they fought the good fight but I think they fought the good fight about two weeks too late.”

According to County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, 16 percent of Prince Georgian’s like Bronson were affected by the government shutdown.

“I am pleased to see federal employees and contractors return back to work and resume life as they knew it before the government shutdown,” said Baker. “ This shutdown had a significant impact on Prince George’s County’s revenue, productivity and the spirits of the 16 percent of our residents who work for the federal government.” 

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) is glad about the bipartisan compromise that extended the debt ceiling, and re-opened the government, but cited the impact on state residents.

“The facts are simple: after sixteen days, House Republicans furloughed 124,000 Marylanders and cost our national economy $24 billion in a misguided attempt to score political points for the extreme base of their party,” Edwards said.

 “We cannot address the real challenges facing this nation if factions of the Republican Party insist on taking the federal government and the full faith and credit of the United States hostage unless their demands are met.

County Executive Baker attributes the shutdown to what he called “arbitrary political decisions.”

“This two week ordeal didn’t happen as a result of a natural disaster or an attack on our nation’s security.  It was the result of arbitrary political decisions and adversely affected thousands of real people in this region and around the country.  And frankly, we cannot and should not allow this to happen again,” he said.


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