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Kilmer’s reaction to shutdown: ‘Congress is currently held in lower regard than head lice’

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POULSBO — At least two members of Congress from Washington state say they will forego collecting a paycheck while the federal government is shut down.

Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Bremerton, and Suzan Del Bene, D-Bothell, announced they are giving up their pay for the duration of the shutdown. Roughly half of the government’s civilian workforce — about 1.2 million employees — face furloughs because the House failed to approve a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. According to Kilmer’s office, national parks are closed, veterans’ disability payments may be disrupted, and there will be a suspension of approval of applications for small-business loans.

It is estimated that a government shutdown will cost taxpayers $150 million a day, according to Kilmer’s office. “The fact that some in Congress would risk a shutdown in order to score political points demonstrates why Congress is currently held in lower regard than head lice,” Kilmer said in a press release.

“I’m voluntarily giving up my own pay during this shutdown because I believe in leading by example. Unfortunately, many federal employees in our region won’t have a say about losing theirs.  They’ll be furloughed and lose pay through no fault of their own.  These employees and the folks who depend on their work deserve better.”

One of Kilmer’s first actions in Congress — he was elected in November 2012 and took office in January — was to break with members of his party to vote for a plan called "No Budget, No Pay," a plan that would withhold pay from members of Congress if Congress doesn’t pass a budget.

Citing the negative impacts of the government shutdown on the 6th Congressional District, where the federal government is the largest employer, Kilmer extended the hours of his Tacoma and Bremerton district offices. “My office has heard from a number of people who have expressed concerns about how they will be impacted so I want to make sure my office is available to go the extra mile to help out,” Kilmer said in a press release.

Kilmer’s offices will be open until 7 p.m. to conduct casework and provide assistance to constituents who may be negatively impacted for the duration of a government shutdown. Should the government shutdown extend to the weekend, Kilmer’s office will announce extended weekend office hours at a later date.

Constituents can call Kilmer’s offices in Tacoma, 253-272-3515; in Bremerton, 360-373-9725; or in Port Angeles, 360-797-3623.

Additionally, on Wednesday at 6 p.m., Kilmer will host his third telephone town hall to discuss the current situation in Congress and take questions from constituents.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., issued the following statement on the federal government shutdown.

“Tonight, I join with so many Washington families in being frustrated and disappointed that House Republicans have shut down the federal government over a crisis of their own creation. Shutting down the government over a law that has — and will continue to — provide Washington families with access to affordable health care is the height of irresponsibility and Washington state families deserve better.

“In the hours and days ahead, I will continue to work to pass a bill to fund the government that is free from unrelated ideological attacks so that our state’s economy, our veterans, federal workers, and students don’t pay the price for House Republicans’ political games.

“To be clear, this shutdown would be over immediately if Speaker Boehner would simply allow both Democrats and Republicans in the House to vote on the bill the Senate has passed multiple times to continue funding the government. But to this point, Republican leaders have chosen shutdown over sanity and politics over the many people who will be impacted by shuttering the government.

“Families from across the political spectrum are sick of governing by crisis and the uncertainty it creates for businesses and communities. That’s why for six months I have fought every day for the budget that I passed in the Senate to be negotiated with the budget passed in the House. But at every turn I’ve been rebuffed by Tea Party Republicans who insist that the only way to negotiate is by holding our economy hostage in exchange for outrageous political demands. “I firmly believe that I would be doing a disservice to the families that I represent if I were to give in to this type of behavior. The last thing anyone should want is a government shutdown, but the days of a small political faction holding the entire nation back from addressing the much larger challenges we face must come to an end.”

 

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