PARKERSBURG — As the federal government sputters by as of day 13 with no funding, West Virginians are calling on both sides to come together and turn the lights back on.
In Parkersburg Thursday, members of Wood County Indivisible marched from Bicentennial Park to the offices of U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. Approximately 25 people came out to celebrate the first day of Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives and encourage McKinley to support a clean government funding resolution with no border wall funding.
“We’re here today on the historic first day of the 116th Congress to send a message to our Congressman David McKinley that we’re watching him, that we’re expecting him to engage in bipartisan support of the reform of our government,” said Jeanne Peters, founder of Wood County Indivisible.
“We want him to begin by reopening the government that (President Donald) Trump shut down,” she continued. “We think our country is better than this and we deserve to put our federal employees back to work.”
U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was sworn in Thursday for her second stint as House speaker after serving in that position from 2007 to 2011. Her first action after re-taking the gavel was introducing several bills to end the shutdown and fund the government through September.
Trump rejected a previous attempt to fund the government after it did not include $5 billion for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Portions of the government started shutting down Dec. 22 just prior to Christmas. Nearly 25 percent of government functions have ceased except for essential services, such as the Department of Homeland
House and Senate leaders met with Trump at the White House Wednesday with plans to meet again today. In a joint statement earlier this week, Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said they would introduce a bill to fund homeland security separately through Feb. 8 to allow more time for leaders to negotiate immigration reform.
“Democrats are taking action to lead our country out of this mess,” they said. “This legislation reopens government services, ensures workers get the paychecks they’ve earned and restores certainty to the lives of the American people.”
According to The Washington Examiner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would reject any funding bill from the House that did not include funding for a border wall, calling Pelosi’s funding resolutions a “political sideshow.”
The federal Office of Personnel Management estimates there are 18,000 federal employees in West Virginia. According to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., an ongoing federal shutdown would begin to affect some workers at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services facility in Clarksburg, the Bureau of Fiscal Service in Parkersburg, the state’s National Parks, and other facilities around the state.
“I am proud that many of these employees will continue to come to work without pay to make sure that our nation remains safe and secure, but I am very concerned that they will be missing critical paychecks — something that is always difficult, but particularly so during the holidays,” Manchin said. “That’s why I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a commonsense solution that reopens the federal government and funds our border security to keep Americans safe.”
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she stands by McConnell’s decision to halt any bill that doesn’t including funding for a border wall.
“The president has made it clear that he will not sign a bill that doesn’t include the necessary funding for a wall system, and Leader McConnell has said that the Senate will not take up a bill that the president will not sign,” Capito said. “The House approach divides legislation that had broad bipartisan support in the Senate simply to reassert Democrats’ continued opposition to border security — and would make it harder to get the entire federal government working again. It’s important that we reach an agreement to reopen the government, and I believe that agreement should include resources to strengthen border security.”
U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., accused Pelosi and House Democrats of choosing to play games rather than compromise.
“Instead of working with President Donald Trump on keeping our nation secure, Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat allies have decided to play political games on their first day in the majority,” Mooney said. “I support fully funding President Trump’s border security plan and look forward to continuing to work with him to fund the wall and fund government.”
According to Mooney, Congress — under both political parties — has failed since 1997 to pass spending bills in a timely manner. The 2nd District congressman said lawmakers need to return to the regular appropriations process.
“Not only does this lead to government shutdowns, but it leads to funding the government by continuing resolutions and other omnibus spending measures, which are nothing more than legalese for ‘kicking the can down the road,'” Mooney said. “In practice these budget ploys take the prior year’s budget and just adds on new spending. This is no way to run a country.”
The government shutdown was not the only issues on the minds of rally attendees Thursday. They presented McKinley’s office a letter encouraging the 1st District congressman to support efforts by the Democratic House majority to pass congressional ethics reform, a constitutional amendment for campaign finance reform, and limited the use of voter identification in states.
“It’s time to reform our democracy,” Peters said. “We need to get money out of politics, we need to expand voter access, and we also need to make sure we pay very close attention to ethics and end corruption in our government. It’s time for us to make some changes, and this is a new day and a new opportunity with the new Congress that’s coming in.”
Comments from McKinley and U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., were not available by press time.