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Washington's shutdown limits boaters' recreate opportunities

Wednesday, October 9, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Larry Innis
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The Federal government has shutdown, and Democratic and Republican leaders are not bending in their discussions on how to achieve fiscal responsibility. Concern is deepening in financial markets, and among businessmen, about the potential for a U.S. default of its debt.In just one day this week interest rates rose, making it twice as expensive for the federal government to borrow short term.

The key to the blockage of extension of the debt ceiling is a strategy of using the federal budget to dismantle the president’s health care law, commonly known as Obamacare. This has also slowed progress for approval of federal appropriations for the new fiscal year.

It is clear no one wins from this battle. However, it is clear that small business and concessionaires on federal properties are losing. Access to federal lakes and parks has been closed, denying boaters and anglers their ability to recreate. In addition, hunting season on federal properties should be opening across the nation, but access may be denied there too. Reacting to pressure, the House of Representatives has approved 11 bills along Party lines to partially fund favorite causes, but the Senate has refused to consider them, opting instead for a Continuing Resolution that would fund the entire government.

So What’s Next? With barely a week to go until the next big deadline, when the federal government runs the risk of not being able to pay its bills and its debt obligations, Congress appears to be preparing for several more days of partisan posturing—with no signs of negotiations to solve the fiscal crises.

The Senate and House continue down separate legislative paths. The House is expected to continue to pass a series of small spending plans to fund popular government programs daring the Senate to reject these funding bills.The shutdown has greatly reduced committee staff so most hearings have been cancelled. The Senate has given no indication of taking up any of these bills.The Senate is drafting legislation to give the Treasury Department more flexibility to borrow without specifically breaching the debt limit law. The Senate Democrats want a "clean” debt extension bill raising the limit by $1 trillion.

MRAA will continue to watch these efforts closely, and will continue to advocate Congress open lakes, reservoirs and lands important to boating and fishing recreation.