U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, broke ranks with his party on Jan. 3. He voted for the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019.
It was an attempt by Democrats to open most government agencies. Funding for Homeland Security and President Donald Trump’s proposal for a border wall were to be left with separate legislation. He was one of seven House Republicans to do so.
While Walden has supported better border security for more than a decade, he also correctly recognizes that the shutdown is creating problems in his home district:
In Klamath County, a meeting to work on resolving water problems in the Klamath Basin, scheduled for next week, was canceled when the Department of Interior’s top water adviser could not attend because of the shutdown.
Too, Eastern Oregon farmers who’ve taken out loans through the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency have been unable to get work done on repaying those loans. FSA, which has offices across Oregon, also oversees things such as the Conservation Reserve Program, which helps farmers protect sensitive land by taking it out of production and provides emergency funds in the wake of disasters like the fires in north Central Oregon last summer.
And, closer to home, any work planning forest management projects on the Deschutes National Forest is on hold until the government reopens.
In a statement, Walden said he couldn’t see how the shutdown, which has idled thousands of government workers, has benefited taxpayers, who rely on those workers for a variety of services. He also said he empathizes with government workers who have missed paychecks as a result of the shutdown.
He’s right. Walden did not vote against a wall. Rather, he voted for the residents of most of Oregon who rely on the federal government for a variety of services.