Gov't Shuts Down, Harms Hawaii's Tourism and Federal Services

Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At midnight in Washington D.C., "non-essential" services of the federal government shut down for the first time since 1995 after Congress failed to approve a budget deal.

Faced with the failure of Congress to complete one of its most fundamental tasks, Sen. Mazie Hirono told Civil Beat hours before the shutdown that it would have grave consequences across the nation, and especially in Hawaii where tens of thousands of federal employees are slated to stop working — and stop getting paid — as of Tuesday. In a state where tourism is the largest industry, people will not be able to visit sites such as the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor or any of the state’s national parks.

Sitting in her Senate office, Hirono seemed pragmatic in the face of governmental paralysis and congressional dysfunction. Shutting down the federal government isn’t why she came to Congress, she acknowledged. Rather than pace the floors until the midnight deadline, she said she would meet with fellow Democrats to resolve the budget crisis and vote on the Senate floor.

“I just keep plugging away,” she said, hoping that Republicans will put an end to the crisis.

In other words, she'll keep doing her job.

Barring a sudden turnaround, most federal employees will not be able to say the same on Tuesday morning.

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