U.S. Rep. Lois Capps said the continuing federal shutdown was hurting federal workers, small business owners and communities throughout the Central Coast and laid the blame on House Speaker John Boehner during a conference call Thursday with reporters.
“The Senate has already — repeatedly — passed legislation to keep the government open with no strings attached,” Capps said. “If the House speaker brought the Senate bill to the floor right now, it would pass. Nineteen of my Republican colleagues are on record supporting this plan, and many more would support it if the speaker would just bring up the vote.”
Capps, a Democrat, said the pain of the shutdown was being felt throughout her 24th Congressional District, which covers San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and part of Ventura counties.
She noted that in San Luis Obispo County the Carrizo Plain National Monument, Goodwin Education Center and Coastal Discovery Center are closed, tours of the Piedras Blancas Light Station are canceled, and staffers at Camp Roberts and Camp San Luis Obispo have been furloughed.
In Santa Barbara County, 200 workers at Los Padres National Forest have been sent home, hundreds of civilian employees are furloughed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is closed.
Capps introduced Mike Cohen, owner of Santa Barbara Adventure Co., who said he has so far lost about $33,000 and disappointed more than 200 schoolchildren and adults from across the country who had signed up with his company for tours of Channel Islands National Park.
Cohen said he’s been forced to cancel tours and lay off some employees for the month of October, since no one knows how long the congressional standoff may last.
Among his disappointed customers was an eighth-grade school group from Los Angeles and an 80-member business group, Cohen said.
“This is affecting many people dramatically, including my employees, my vendors, my customers and people who work at the national parks.”
Capps said the congressional battle, which centers around a Republican effort to derail the Affordable Care Act, was “completely unnecessary.”
“This is a law that was passed by Congress, ruled on by the Supreme Court, and the subject of intense debate in last year’s election,” she said. “To put it bluntly, the candidate who wanted to repeal the law lost the election.”