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As Government Shutdown Continues, Kansas Republicans Blame Democrats

Chris Murphy
During the now three-week stretch of the partial government shutdown, federal courts such as the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, have remained open with funding from fees, but that money runs out this Friday.

On what threatens to become the longest government shutdown in history, Kansas Republican representatives tend to agree — Democrats are to blame. 

It's the third week of the shutdown, which came after Democrats and Republicans in the Senate failed to reach an agreement on a spending bill that would allocate $5 billion for a border wall. That means it's the third consecutive week thousands of federal workers across the country have gone without pay.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas said he thinks Democrats need to come to the negotiating table. In a statement, he said the shutdown continues because Democrats "refuse" to help secure the border, which he calls a crisis. 

With more emphasis on the importance of Congress and the Trump administration coming together to resolve the shutdown, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., called for a "sense of urgency."

Moran also acknowledged the negative impacts of the shutdown on federal employees and subcontractors in his state and throughout the country, who have now gone three weeks without pay. In a statement, he placed particular emphasis on farmers in Kansas who "wait in uncertainty as crucial federal aid sits on the desks of furloughed employees."

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., told KCUR that border security is just that important.

"Certainly they have my heartfelt sympathy and concern," Marshall said. "This is a hill we have to take, and I'm sorry, but I feel like the Democrats are using them as pawns in this."

Meanwhile, in an interview with NPR, Rep. Sharice Davids, a Kansas Democrat, voiced concerns about Native American communities that rely heavily on government payouts. 

In a statement, Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri called the continuation of the shutdown "incomprehensible," and pointedly called attention to President Trump's comment in December that he would be "proud" to shut down the government if he didn't get the funding he wanted for a border wall.

"It is troubling and incomprehensible that at this point, the President has dragged the nation into the second week of an unnecessary and damaging shutdown," Cleaver said.

Last week, the House of Representatives, now controlled by Democrats, passed legislation to reopen the government without the $5 billion Trump demands, but with the promise of a month for Congress and the president to negotiate on border security with an operating government. 

Cleaver said he was hopeful Senate would support the legislation.

But to date, little progress has been made to end the shutdown, as Trump has refused to sign any legislation that does not include funding for the border wall, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said the president would not get a wall.

Trump announced Monday he would address the nation from the Oval Office Tuesday night to discuss the shutdown and "Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border."

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @andreatudhope.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
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