Matthew Renda
mrenda@theunion.com

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October 2, 2013
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Government shutdown hurts Nevada County

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. — While legislators in Washington D.C. continue to play chicken with the U.S. economy, seniors in Nevada County dependent on federal programs for weekly meals are in danger of going hungry and the Tahoe National Forest headquarters in Nevada City has shuttered its doors.

“Senior nutrition programs are at risk,” said Jeffrey Brown, director of the Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency.

Gold Country Community Center Executive Director Sandy Jacobson admitted funding “was a little bit up in the air.”

“I honestly don’t know what to tell (our patrons),” she said last Thursday during a town hall meeting on the San Juan Ridge.

Furthermore, quarterly payments for block grants that are federally funded will not be made until a functioning federal government is restored.

Head Start, a federal program that promotes school readiness in children ages 5 and younger from low-income families by enhancing cognitive, social and emotional development, will be discontinued until further notice.

Also, quarterly grants distributed to Child Welfare Services at the state and county levels will not be available.

As a general rule, entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and notably the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, will not be affected by the shutdown.

Gwen Ernst-Ulrich, spokeswoman for the Tahoe National Forest, said all offices including the headquarters in Nevada City and ranger district offices in Camptonville, Foresthill, Sierraville and Truckee are closed until further notice because of the lapse in federal government, in a release issued Tuesday.

Fee campgrounds that are concessionaire-managed are open until regularly scheduled seasonal closure dates.

Other recreational facilities are closed and will not be maintained during the government furlough.

Calls placed to the headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service in Washington were not answered and voicemail boxes were full. A release was available that stated fire suppression units, law enforcement personnel and emergency and natural disaster response will be in effect.

The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is closing facilities and cancelling events effective today.

Doug LaMalfa, the Republican Congressman that represents Nevada County, voted in favor of House Resolution 59, which proposed a budget that would fund the government but delay the implementation of Obamacare’s centerpiece for a year.

The Democratically dominated Senate rejected the spending bill as expected.

LaMalfa placed the blame for the shutdown on the Senate.

“The Senate placed the nation in a precarious position after refusing to negotiate and leaving the Capitol this weekend,” LaMalfa said in a prepared statement. “After the House passed a measure to prevent a government shutdown for the third time, I’m hopeful that the Senate will finally take some responsibility, do what is right for our nation and pass this bill.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010 after being authorized by both houses in Congress and was found to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.

Nevertheless, House Republicans have refused to pass a budget that funds certain portions of the controversial law.

President Barack Obama has been sharply critical of the Republican tactics.

“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there’s a law there that you don’t like,” Obama said Monday, delivering a similar message in private phone calls later to Republican House Speaker John Boehner and other lawmakers, according to the Associated Press.

Boehner said he didn’t want a government shutdown, but added the health care law “is having a devastating impact. ... Something has to be done.”

It wasn’t clear how long the standoff would last, but it appeared that Obama and Reid had the upper hand.

“We can’t win,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., adding that “sooner or later” the House would have to agree to Democrats’ demands for a simple, straightforward funding bill reopening the government.

Boehner had sought to avoid the shutdown and engineer passage of a “clean” temporary spending bill for averting a government shutdown, the AP reported.

This time, Tea Party activists mobilized by freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, mounted a campaign to seize the must-do measure in an effort to derail Obamacare. GOP leaders voiced reservations and many Republican lawmakers predicted it wouldn’t work. Some even labeled it “stupid.”

But the success of Cruz and other tea party-endorsed conservatives who upset establishment GOP candidates in 2010 and 2012 primaries was a lesson learned for many Republican lawmakers going into next year’s election.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 3, 2013 12:32PM Published Oct 2, 2013 09:12AM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.