Warner, Kaine highlight impact of shutdown on Virginia
Speaking on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine highlighted the ongoing negative impact of the government shutdown in Virginia, and again urged House Republican leaders to re-open government, pay the nation’s bills on time and negotiate on a long term budget. Kaine and Warner were joined by fellow members of the Senate Democratic caucus.
Sen. Warner highlighted the impact of the shutdown at the National Science Foundation, which funds 20 percent of America’s university-based research and employs 1,600 people in Arlington, and on the 3,500 workers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, who were sent home without pay beginning Oct. 1.
“The piecemeal approach adopted by the House, where we reopen selected government functions in response to embarrassing media coverage, makes absolutely no rational business sense. We need to get our entire government open so these skilled federal employees can get back to work,” Sen. Warner said. “The shutdown has had an obvious impact on many essential services that a lot of Virginians value and support. But we also need to be concerned about the longer-term impacts on our nation’s economic competitiveness, and our ability to drive innovation around the world.”
Sen. Kaine described how the government shutdown has already hurt the Eastern Shore community of Chincoteague, Virginia with the cancellation of two back-to-back weekends of events that were expected to draw thousands of visitors – the re-opening of the Assateague Lighthouse and the annual fall wild pony roundup. He also highlighted how another pillar of the Chincoteague area’s economy, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, has been forced to furlough over 800 workers as a result of the shutdown.
“The main industry in Chincoteague is tourism…the closure of the national seashore and closure of the wildlife refuge has completely hammered the community of Chincoteague,” said Sen. Kaine. “The second pillar of the economy is a NASA facility at Wallops Island, five miles away. 1000 workers and contractors there – 80 to 90 percent of them have been furloughed and are not working this week.”
Sen. Kaine also shared the story of furloughed Virginia veteran Mark Wright who recently retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army after serving for 23 years. His service included two tours in Iraq – the first during Operation Desert Storm and the second in 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mark is currently furloughed for the second time this year from his position as a civilian Defense Department employee.
“There are many Mark Wrights in Virginia,” Sen. Kaine said. “70,000 DOD civilians have already been furloughed in Virginia because of the sequester and 37 percent of all federal employees in Virginia are veterans. So when you do a shutdown of government, you are hurting veterans.”
In closing, Sen. Kaine argued that “if another nation attacked the U.S. to shut our government down, if another nation attacked the U.S. to tank the financial system, I know exactly what we would do: Congress and the American people – out of patriotic love for this country – would rally with every ounce of energy they have to keep government open to pay our bills and to protect the full faith and credit of the U.S.”
“There has been a carefully planned effort to shut down our government,” Sen. Kaine continued. “There are efforts to destabilize our financial system, even if these efforts hurt the Chincoteagues of the world and the Mark Wrights of the world. We need to rally out of patriotic love for this nation to re-open government to protect our fiscal system and then use the regular processes of legislation to talk about any other issue that the American public wants.”