Sumter Senator says continued shutdown threatens Shaw AFB

10/05/2013 10:30 PM

10/05/2013 10:37 PM

The continuing deadlock in Washington, D.C., causing the federal government shutdown could end up having a harmful impact on Shaw Air Force Base, state senator Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, said Friday.

Because of this, the local state senator said a resolution needs to be reached soon and called specifically on the elected officials from South Carolina — who are primarily Republican — to address the issue.

"It's past time for Congress to give partisan bickering a rest and get to work doing the people's business," McElveen said, later adding, "I am concerned that our representatives in Washington are so distracted by Capitol Hill politics that they forget that their actions are causing problems for people back in their home districts."

So far, the federal shutdown has sent home about 350 civilian employees at Shaw Air Force Base, according to base officials. The gridlock has also caused the closure of several services considered nonessential, including the base commissary, Education Center offices and the customer service desk.

"Like a lot of people in Sumter, I'm always worried about Shaw Air Force Base," McElveen said, who also pointed out that some studies show that about a third of the Sumter economy is attributable to the local military installation.

At the crux of the issues in Washington are attempts by Republicans to defund the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

Republicans in Washington have blamed Democrats for the shutdown, saying the Democrats have been stubbornly unwilling to compromise on an issue Republicans say is not supported by a majority of the country's citizens, and that Democrats have, in fact, intentionally avoided multiple chances to resolve the issue. Democrats, meanwhile, have blamed the shutdown on Republicans, saying the Republicans refuse to recognize that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and will not be overturned.

For his part, McElveen doesn't take a specific viewpoint on the causes of the shutdown but simply calls for statesmanship.

"I don't think anyone should abandon their principles. I think that's important, but I do think people should sit down and consider compromising and consider getting some of what they want rather than all of it," McElveen said.

"There's dirty hands on both sides, and it just bothers me that American politics have gotten to the point where they can't even come together to solve the big problems," McElveen said.

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