Letter to the Editor: Finstad votes to shut down government

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Senate and House passed a stopgap measure Thursday January 18 averting a partial government shutdown beginning midnight January 19. It was passed with bipartisan majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives but over the opposition of hard right Republicans in the House.

The stopgap legislation funds agriculture, transportation, housing, veterans’ programs, and other government operations until March 1. The rest of the federal government had funding extended until March 8.

The funding extension allows the government to continue to provide services while long term funding is negotiated. The $1.66 trillion budget amount had already been negotiated and agreed in a settlement last spring. An extreme faction of the Republican party is trying to reduce this level of funding for the budget.

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If the stopgap measure had failed, the government would have shut down. Nonessential services such as USDA offices would have closed, and employees sent home and not been paid. The law provides that employees receive back wages when funding ultimately becomes available. Service to local farmers and others would have been discontinued. Farm commodity prices are down while most farm expenses have continued to increase. It is essential that the USDA stays open to provide the financing and other business services that farmers, especially beginning farmers depend on.

The USDA has rural development programs that support non farmers. For example, the USDA Rural Development Loan and Grant Program. It is administered by local electric coops. This provides financing for rural businesses to expand and create new jobs.

Our First District Representative Finstad voted against the stopgap funding and against the interests of his constituents. Also, Minnesota Republican Representatives Fischbach and Stauber voted against the measure. Representatives Craig, McCollum, Omar and Emmer voted for the stopgap measure to keep the government open. Representative Phillips did not vote.

Compromises that controlled budget levels were agreed to last spring. The extreme wing of the Republican party is using the process to disrupt normal operations and are demanding fanatical measures including restrictions on abortion and the availability of contraceptives.

Representative Finstad is not representing the needs of First District constituents including farmers.

Joe Pacovsky

Hayward, MN