State leaders split on govt shutdown

October 1, 2013 • Local News

New Mexico’s congressional leaders were split on how they handled the first day of the federal government shutdown Tuesday, [auth] while Roswell residents felt few effects from the legislative logjam.

Republican Rep. Steve Pearce was the only state U.S. House representative to vote three times Monday in favor of continuing federal support to veterans, keeping national park services, the Smithsonian, National Gallery of Art and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum operating and to make other appropriations for 2014.

Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan-Grisham, both Democrats, voted against appropriating funds for veterans’ benefits and the parks service, Smithsonian and Holocaust Memorial. Both resolutions failed.

Lujan and Lujan-Grisham are also keeping staff employed during the shutdown and keeping their offices open.

Pearce closed his offices and has furloughed his entire staff. He will return “whatever pay he receives during the period of the shutdown,” said his spokesman Eric Layer Monday.

“Today, the House acted for a third time to prevent a government shutdown,” Pearce said Monday. “The House proposal is a commonsense plan to keep the government running, while making sure Washington isn’t let off the hook from the laws it creates for Americans. New Mexico doesn’t have any time for more of the Senate’s political games.”

Lujan and Lujan-Grisham voted against this proposal Monday.

“There is a clear path forward that would swiftly end the government shutdown,” Lujan said in a statement Tuesday. “It would ensure that our veterans have the resources they deserve, get furloughed New Mexico workers back on the job, and make our public lands available for all.”

Lujan-Grisham made the following statement Tuesday:

“Make no mistake, House Republicans have shut down the government. The Senate repeatedly sent the House a clean funding bill to keep the government open while we work on the significant fiscal issues facing our country.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said the government shutdown jeopardized national security.

“Approximately 72 percent of the civilian intelligence workforce has been furloughed because of the government shutdown, jeopardizing our national security and the putting the lives our men and women in uniform at risk,” Heinrich said.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said the impacts to the state would be felt immediately. Heinrich and Udall continued to issue press releases Tuesday.

“If the shutdown lasts several days or weeks, the impacts will ripple through our state’s economy, hurting thousands of people in communities from Lordsburg to Los Alamos,” Udall said.

However, one of the only obvious federal facility closed in the Roswell area Tuesday was the Pecos District Office of the Bureau of Land Management. The U.S. Post Office was open and operating at full capacity. The U.S. Federal Building was open.

In Artesia, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center was fully operational.

The City of Roswell Air Center was operating without any problems, according to Manager Jennifer Brady. The center’s tower is staffed by Federal Aviation Administration employees.

“It didn’t affect operations or personnel here at all,” Brady said.

Chaves County should not be affected by the shutdown, at least if it doesn’t last a long time, said County Commissioner Greg Nibert.

“If it drags out, there could be a lot of effects,” Nibert said. “But it should not have any effects on county operations.”

A long-term shutdown might hinder some money expected from the Federal Emergency Management Agency the county needs to repair storm-damaged roads and bridges, Nibert said.

Kevin Trieu, co-owner of Zen Restaurant, said business was not affected by the shutdown.

“I didn’t feel anything,” Trieu said. “Nothing I know is affecting us.”

Other residents in the city did have opinions about the situation, though.

“I am a veteran, and I don’t feel very enthusiastic about it,” said Joe Trujillo. “They need to look at the best interest of the people. It’s the people who they work for. I killed and shed blood for the right to express my opinion.”

Some 150 tourists in town Tuesday were unable to visit Carlsbad Caverns, which was shuttered due to the federal closures, and instead made local trips to the Spring River Park and Zoo and the Eastern New Mexico State Fair, said Monica Gomez.

“It will affect the hospitality industry if it continues,” Gomez said.

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