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Hawaii's congressional delegation reacts angrily to shutdown

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED: 08:39 p.m. HST, Sep 30, 2013

Hawaii's congressional delegation reacted angrily to the partial government shutdown that took effect at midnight in Washington, placing the blame squarely on House Republicans for refusing to compromise.

"Republicans accomplished two things tonight, both bad," said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a statement. "They have manufactured a crisis over Obamacare and shut down the government. And they have shown to the American people how far they are willing to go with their anti-compromise ideology, taking paychecks away from thousands of workers, families and businesses in Hawaii and millions more across the country.

"The country is being held hostage by a few dozen hardliners in the House who seem to be incapable of compromise," Hirono said. "This is sad and frankly stupid considering the many other challenges our country faces."

Sen. Brian Schatz sounded a similar note, chastising House Republicans for their "recklessness."

"Despite knowing that a government shutdown would hurt seniors, veterans, families and dedicated public servants, as well as put our economic well-being at risk, House Republicans have stubbornly refused to agree to fund the federal government.

"Every moment that the government remains closed endangers our economy and American families across the country," Schatz said.

The shutdown was assured when the House and Senate were unable to agree on a spending bill for essential federal funding. House Republicans had demanded changes to the national health care law as a condition for approving any proposed spending bill, a demand that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats flatly rejected.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Monday was "an embarrassing day for Congress."

"It is unfortunate that Speaker (John) Boehner and his caucus insisted on putting the priorities of a radical segment in their party above those of the American people," Hanabusa said. "With so much at stake and time ticking away, they continued down this misguided path instead of working with Democrats to bring a clean spending bill to the floor and keep the government's doors open.

"In a time that demanded leadership, they offered brinksmanship," Hanabusa said.

Hanabusa said she does not support taking the debate to a joint conference given the urgency of the situation.

"I will continue to urge Speaker Boehner to bring a clean spending bill to the floor."

Hanabusa's Chief of Staff, Rod Tanonaka, indicated the shutdown will have an immediate effect on the congresswoman's own office.

Hanabusa will furlough all district staff, close the Honolulu office, and furlough all Washington, D.C., staff with the exception of legislative director Josh Dover, press secretary Ashley Nagaoka Boylan and an assistant, Tanonaka said.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said she was disappointed by the "political rhetoric and games" that marked the final week of supposed negotiation.

"Valid concerns and issues have been raised, but are issues that have should have been debated and solved without holding our government hostage, with countless people in Hawaii and across the nation feeling the brunt of painful impacts," Gabbard said.

In a statement released shortly after the deadline passed, acting Gov. Shan Tsutsui added that the shutdown would affect all states and could "derail" economic recovery.

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