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Local News

October 2, 2013

State and local officials react to federal government shutdown

DUNCAN — The federal government’s inability to reach an agreement regarding the nation’s health care law has caused sectors of government to shutdown, holding up Medicare and Medicaid payments, said Oklahoma Sen. Corey Brooks on Tuesday.

Former Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, D-Duncan, and Brooks, R-Washington, had differing views on how the government shutdown could impact Oklahoma residents. Brooks said most people may not even notice there’s a problem at the national level.

“Chances are the average American won’t feel the impact,” Brooks said. “If you’re not receiving payment from the federal government, it probably won’t impact you much. I certainly applaud those standing against the Affordable Care Act.”

Askins said there are more Oklahomans using federal funding programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, than most people realize. She said that if those people go a prolonged period without getting that funding it would start to impact the economy.

With those people unable to get funding, they can’t spend that money, she said. If they can’t spend that money, the Oklahoma economy could start seeing the impact of fewer funds being spent.

“I think the outcome is very unfortunate,” Askins said. “There are so many civil servants being impacted because of the federal government’s inability to talk.”

One set of civil servants not being impacted by the government shutdown is military.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe released a statement Tuesday, about the U.S. Senate’s passage of H.R. 3210, which protects military members’ pay in the event of a government shutdown.

“I applaud the Senate for passing legislation this afternoon to ensure our military is paid in the event of a government shutdown,” Inhofe said. “Our nation’s military should not suffer for Congress’ inability to pass a budget that represents the demands of the American people. Our men and women in uniform make extraordinary sacrifices for our safety and security, and they deserve our respect.

“The President’s sequestration has already resulted in unnecessary furloughs and uncertainty this year for our military. I urge the President to quickly sign this common-sense, bipartisan bill into law in order to stop further interruptions in the invaluable services our military provides to keep us safe.”

Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) also released a statement Tuesday after the Senate’s failure to engage in budget negotiations with the House in order to avert a government shutdown.

“Today is an unfair day for America and one that could have been avoided,” said Cole. “While the House has worked tirelessly to propose fair solutions, the Senate has refused to consider a compromise in any form. Now we are all suffering the consequences of government shutdown, including the furlough of more than 800,000 federal workers.

 Cole didn’t shy away from the government fiasco.

“The House passed three temporary spending measures to keep the government running, including proposals that would defund ObamaCare, delay implementation of the law for a year or delay the individual mandate for a year. Our economy is broken, and shutting down the government is making it worse.”

Brooks and Askins said the federal government’s inability to reach an agreement is the opposite of how things run in the Oklahoma government. Both spoke positively about the state’s ability to function, even with Republicans and Democrats working together.

“We may not agree on everything, but we still respect each other,” Brooks said. “Our Washington colleagues should take a page from that book.”

That seems to be Cole’s line of thought, also.

“It is critical that leaders from both chambers work together to resolve the situation and find meaningful long-term solutions to our growing deficit, especially as we near another deadline involving the debt ceiling. We must unite, acting swiftly and with great urgency,” he stated.

Duncan Mayor Gene Brown doesn’t think Duncanites should be concerned.

“The way I see it is it won’t affect us too much, except for some grants we were hoping to get,” Brown said. “I hope the people we elected up there will work this out.”

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