Local delegation reacts to shutdown's end
Members of Long Island's and New York's congressional delegation said they were relieved the government shutdown ended Friday night after the Senate and House passed bills to put federal employees back to work.
In interviews and tweets, the lawmakers called the 35-day shutdown unnecessary, costly and harmful to people who have nothing to do with the political impasse in Washington.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the end of the shutdown "great news for 800,000 federal workers and millions of Americans who depend on government services. As Democrats have said all along, the solution to this impasse was separate funding for the government and then go over our disagreements from border security."
Schumer added: "The American people do not like it when you throw a wrench into the lives of government workers over an unrelated political dispute."
Long Island’s senior Republican congressman, Peter King (R-Seaford), said the shutdown was useless, and he blamed the Freedom Caucus, a conservative rump within his party, for leading President Donald Trump on a path toward a political “Valley of Death.”
Asked what the shutdown had achieved, King’s response was a single word: "Nothing.”
He expressed concern that the Freedom Caucus has pulled the party toward all-or-nothing stands that are making impossible the give-and-take that allow divided government to function.
“In fact, I strongly support having a wall, but I'm against government shutdowns. It goes against democracy. You don't shut the government because you don't get what you want. I strongly believe in the wall, but we have to get the votes.”
He said the caucus tactics had backfired, hurting American citizens and tarnishing the Republican brand.
"We should just cut them off and realize that we're not the majority in the House, and we don’t even have a real majority in the Senate because you need 60 votes; we’re going to have to negotiate. If we think the Democrats have the wrong policy, that’s what democracy is about.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat who is running for president in 2020, tweeted: “This needless shutdown was never about national security. It was about playing politics with Americans’ lives for a cruel and empty campaign promise. Let’s open the government and keep it open.”
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) tweeted: “Relieved that this shutdown is over, but beyond frustrated at how needless and avoidable it was. This is the same bipartisan agreement we reached a month ago. We have to do better in the weeks ahead. We owe that to all the federal workers & families who braved weeks of hardship.”
Rice also tweeted that Congress should pass a bill she co-sponsored ensuring government contractors also receive back pay, saying they and their families “are experiencing unimaginable hardship & instability because of the shutdown.”
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said Trump had backed down because his refusal to agree to reopen the government had confronted him with increasingly strong headwinds.
“The polling," he said. "It's on the economy. It was the indictment of Roger Stone, frankly. It was facing the passing of the State of the Union at the end of January.”
But he cautioned Democrats not to celebrate what many regard as a political defeat for Trump.
"I'm glad it's over, but we shouldn't rejoice,” Suozzi said. “A lot of damage has been done, and you don't shut the government because you don't get your way. That's what banana republics do."
Long Island’s other Republican congressman — Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) — tweeted a statement following Trump’s announcement that he would allow the government to reopen for three weeks of negotiations.
Zeldin called it “good news for hardworking fed employees” but made no reference, as King did, to their party’s role in the longest-ever federal shutdown that deprived 800,000 employees of pay, affected airports whose operations were snarled by a lack of federal personnel, and upset American citizens.
Zeldin instead attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), accusing her of “only accepting compromise that gets her 100% of what she wants…”
“Pelosi has a long way to go to truly be Speaker of the entire House instead of Speaker of the Radical Left,” the tweet continued.