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Unlike Washington, Coloradans don’t shut down

Sen. Bennet’s Report

In stark contrast to Washington’s dysfunction, which brought us a 16-day government shutdown and the risk of default in October, Coloradans know what it means to do their jobs, day-in and day-out.

Across the state, and in some cases as they recovered from catastrophic flooding, workers in Colorado continued to carry out their duties and meet their responsibilities, in light of the paralysis in Washington. From police officers to teachers, business owners to assembly line workers, we proved that Colorado doesn’t shut down.

To highlight this point, immediately following the shutdown, we traveled across the state to work side by side Coloradans who are working hard day-in and day-out. Despite challenges they face, the workers we met with were meeting their obligations, providing for their families, and contributing to our economy.

At Adam’s Mountain Cafe, a popular local eatery in Manitou Springs, the restaurant’s owner, Farley McDonough, quickly put me to work. Between filling waters and wiping down tables, I talked with customers about the hardships and losses they’ve suffered as a result of the mudslides and flooding in Manitou this summer. They also shared with me their frustration with the dysfunction in Washington.  Later, when riding along with Officer Marcus Juliano on his beat in Pueblo, I witnessed his dedication to his community as he responded to call after call well into the night.

In Fowler, at the family-owned Jensen’s Blue Ribbon Processing plant, Jerry Jensen, the meat packing plant’s owner, explained the challenges and costs of competing with large companies.  Jerry works hard every day to keep his doors open.  At U.S. Tractor and Harvest Inc. in Alamosa, mechanics explained the difficulties small farms are facing throughout the state due to drought and high feed costs, not to mention the fact that Washington has yet to reauthorize the Farm Bill.

Whether it was substitute teaching in Denver, working at Brown Cycles and Edgewater Brewery in Grand Junction, or hauling onions at Tuxedo Farms in Olathe, the stark contrast between these hard-working Coloradans and the political antics going on in Washington was crystal clear.

Though the government has reopened — at least temporarily — the effects of this ridiculous and manufactured crisis were undeniably damaging to the country and to Colorado. Standard and Poor’s estimated that the shutdown took $24 billion out of our economy and for 16 days put 800,000 people out of work nationwide, including more than 40,000 workers in Colorado, all who temporarily had paychecks delayed.  In the aftermath of unprecedented flooding that caused tremendous destruction, this shut down was a kick in the teeth to the thousands in our state who are working hard every day and are struggling to rebuild.

As we look forward, now is the time for Washington to get its act together and work on priorities important to Coloradans. This includes fixing our broken immigration system, passing the farm bill, and most importantly crafting a balanced bipartisan budget.

This story was posted on November 7, 2013.