Congressman Barrow talks shutdown, debt ceiling

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News 12 First at Five/ October 7, 2013


AUGUSTA, Ga.--Congressman John Barrow was in Augusta Monday to speak to the Rotary Club and answer questions from constituents in Columbia County at "Congress on the Corner" in Evans.

When we asked him how he feels about the partial government shutdown, he replied, "It is frustrating as hell for Congress to say, 'Not only are we not going to do our job, we're not going to let anyone else do their job either."

Even though Barrow is a member of Congress, he says he's just as frustrated as everyone else is with the failure to compromise on Capitol Hill. As he and his colleauges continue to argue over the budget, thousands of non-essential federal employees out of work.

He says, "This is totally unnecessary and a waste of good people."

The House passed a bill granting a little bit of relief to furloughed government workers. The Senate is expected to pass it as well. Barrow says, "We passed a bill in the house to tell those folks, after this is over, you will be paid."

While that decision sent hundreds back to work today at Fort Gordon, the bill doesn't cover everyone who is suffering in our area. Barrow says, "The civilian contractors who work for the Department of Energy at SRS, people like that have been laid off while this is still pending, and there's no promise that those folks are going to be compensated for the cutback in pay they're experiencing."

As the shutdown enters its second week, another deadline is quickly aproaching. Congress has until the 17th of October to raise the debt ceiling or the U.S. government will default on its loans for the first time in history.

Barrow says, "We've had shutdowns in the past, big and small, and the economy has managed to recover from the damage that has been done as a result of that, but this is like going from playing with dynamite to playing with a nuclear bomb."

Since neither side of the aisle seems ready to make a decision about the budget, many, including Barrow, are worried the disagreement will affect the debt limit vote. He says, "What worries me is that folks will take this failure to do our most basic job and use that as an excuse to do something even more severe."

Since the government has never defaulted on their loans, it's difficult to know how far reaching the impact would be if Congress didn't raise the debt ceiling. Congressman Barrow says he believes it would change the confidence the world has in the U.S., interest rates would soar, and it would basically negate all of the work done at this point to crawl out of the recession.