Talon News - Good Local News



January 4, 2019

Tourists visiting Aztec Ruins turned away

Photos and story by TALON staff

At the Aztec Ruins, around 20 national park rangers and support staff are out of work or working without pay as a result of the ongoing government shut-down. "Right now we have no idea if there will be any back pay...everyone is just sitting at home waiting to see what will happen," said a park source. Another well-placed source said, many of the Aztec Ruin staff communicated various levels of concern about the shutdown. Some were wondering how they would, "make ends meet" while others were "okay with some time-off at least at this point." The consenus according the source was, "We shouldn't be pawns in this political stand-off."

In a call from Washington D.C., Chief Spokesperson for the National Park Service Jeremy Barnum told TALON, "I wouldn't be able to speculate on how long the shutdown will last, or if any retroactive back-pay will be forthcoming, that's ultimately up to congress to decide." Barnum said, "I wish I could give you more information...we at the National Park Service recognize that small town newspapers are a very important resource to us and we value them... Community newspapers cover everything we offer at our national parks and monuments really well and we appreciate and respect that."

Beginning on Saturday, December 22, at midnight EST, the partial government shutdown is now on day 14. According to the Office of Management and Budget a 16-day-long shutdown in 1995-96 cost U.S. taxpayers 2 billion dollars. The 2018-19 shutdown is effecting roughly 800,000 people or a quarter of all government employees (CNN 2/2/19). Along with the National Parks service, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, and the Consumer Protection Safety Commission are just some of the government agencies affected by the shutdown. According to a report that appeared in GQ (12/29/18, Uyehara, Mari) "Congress is still pulling down $174,000 salaries during the government shutdown. Meanwhile, government employees making $20,000 a year are being asked to work without pay."

The shut-down is a result of the Trump administration's failure to reach an agreement with the republican controlled congress on budgetary spending. The sticking point is funding for Trump's long-promised southern border wall with Mexico. Despite the often-repeated promise that Mexico will pay for the wall, Trump is seeking 5.6 billion insisting he will not accept less than 2.5 billion. Trump contends that the new USMCA trade deal with Mexico and Canada will pay for the wall, while economists argue that trade deals mainly benefit companies that import and export goods, not governments (The Hill 1/27/17, Edelman, Doreen).

New senators and congressmen and women were sworn in on January 3, 2019. As Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will lead the democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will continue serving as Majority Leader of the Senate. Despite polarizing partisan divisions between democrats and republicans the hope is the new congress can find some common ground to build a compromise that will soon re-open the government up for business for 2019.


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