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Utah members of Congress worry about federal workers but Republicans digging in on wall

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - Jan 9th, 2019 @ 7:31pm



SALT LAKE CITY — Members of Utah's congressional delegation aren't sure when the government shutdown will end as federal workers start feeling the pinch of going without paychecks, and the Republicans aren't budging on the president's call for a wall.

"I’m concerned about the financial challenges that many Utah families and businesses are facing as federal workers start to miss paychecks," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Wednesday in a statement.

"I’m hopeful this will be resolved soon in a way that protects border security and reopens the government, and that’s what I’m focused on with my colleagues."

Romney did not directly address President Donald Trump's Tuesday speech to the nation urging Democrats to fund his long-promised border wall.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said he doesn't know when government — now three weeks into a partial shutdown — will reopen. He said it's not fair to government workers who find themselves in the crosshairs of the dispute.

"They have almost no influence over the outcome and yet we’re taking advantage of a very unfortunate situation and really hurting them and their families," he said Wednesday on KSL Newsradio's "Dave & Dujanovic Show."

Like the president, Utah Republicans in Congress aren't willing to give in on funding for a wall, though some have taken to calling it a "barrier" or "border security."

Rep. Chris Stewart said he wishes Trump wouldn't use the word wall.

"It’s not a wall. It’s border security. It’s sensors. It’s monitors. It’s patrols. In some cases it’s wall, but not generally," he said on the radio show.

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Stewart and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, continue to blame the shutdown on Democrats and the Republican-controlled Senate's 60-vote rule for passing legislation.

"It’s what leads to these shutdowns every winter. I mean, you can plan on it. Every winter we’re going to have a shutdown over something or another. It's because we can't get any spending bills through the Senate because of that 60-vote threshold," Stewart said.

Bishop agreed, saying the 60-vote "tradition" is the problem. He said he doesn't know when the shutdown will end.

"I wish I could give you a definitive answer to that," he said on the "Dave & Dujanovic Show." "My answer is it didn’t have to happen. It should have ended before Christmas."

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said shutdowns are a byproduct of congressional leaders waiting until the last minute to bring out spending bills. He said he doesn't see this one ending without funding for the wall, adding Trump's request is not "outlandish" and that Democratic presidents have built sections of wall in the past.

"Walls work. That’s why we build them, so let's come together. Let's give the Department of Homeland Security the money and the resources that it needs to address this crisis and let's end the shutdown," he said.


It’s not a wall. It’s border security. It’s sensors. It’s monitors. It’s patrols. In some cases it’s wall, but not generally.

–Rep. Chris Stewart


Utah's lone Democrat, Rep. Ben McAdams, said in a statement after Trump's speech Tuesday that Utahns expect Congress to work together, find common ground and move forward.

"Both parties and President Trump need to work together to end the partial government shutdown. This impasse is unproductive, unnecessary and harms our ability to resolve serious issues such as reforming our broken immigration system and lowering health care costs," he said.

McAdams also said he's voting for funding measures to end the shutdown that previously received overwhelming support in the Senate.

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