As the US federal government shutdown nears two weeks in length, local members of congress are starting to voice their displeasure with leadership on both sides of the isle.
Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp joined KMAN Morning News this week to discuss a variety topics, from why the shutdown occurred to the best plan of action to stop it.
“I think we need to change the course and move a little bit differently,” he said. “As we sit here, the US Senate, under Sen. Harry Reid and the President, are not going to negotiate on a single thing. That, to me, is not how this thing should operate.”
The shutdown came into effect Oct. 1 and negotiations in Washington have been few and far between. Huelskamp said residents in his district, which includes the majority of the state, have raised numerous concerns with how the shutdown may affect Kansans.
“We have a pretty heavy volume of calls coming in asking about the USDA, if checks will be sent out and what will happen with crops,” he said. “It can’t go on forever. There comes an end of the line, and that’s usually the debt ceiling.”
Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas’ 2nd District released a statement Wednesday that expressed displeasure with the terminology being used by media and government officials when referring to the shutdown.
“I have been very disappointed with Washington’s rhetoric, including the talk of ‘putting guns to people’s heads’ and ‘holding hostages,’” the statement read. “This extreme language is inappropriate and moves us no closer to solving our country’s problems.”
Jenkins and Huelskamp are Republicans who agree compromise must come from both political parties.
“There is enough blame to go around for why we are in this fiscal mess today, and we need both parties to work together to change course,” Jenkins’ statement said.
Above all, they agreed millions of Americans are hanging in the balance of Washington’s largest political stalemate in 17 years. This is unacceptable regardless of blame, according to Huelskamp.
“There have been cases of religious services being shut down in Georgia, and that’s an absolute outrage,” he said. “Hopefully, it won’t create long-term damage for those people.”
Both representatives have dealt with angry citizens and protesters at their respective offices, including in Manhattan.
“Some folks have been coming by, disappointed and upset with the situation,” Huelskamp said.
He added the shutdown has made it difficult to communicate with his office, but he encourages residents in Manhattan to get in touch with him when they need to.
“We want to make sure we have a presence in Manhattan,” he said. “If you have a problem with the IRS, Medicare or Medicaid, give us a call.”