Calling the federal government shutdown “deranged,” Gov. Jay Inslee said the state’s economic recovery is being jeopardized by congressional Republicans who want to derail or delay health-care reforms that people here want and need.
Inslee, a Democrat, told reporters at a news conference in Seattle on Sunday that veterans’ services, unemployment compensation and the state’s aerospace industry are feeling the effects of the shutdown.
“Our citizens have been denied basic governmental services,” he said. “Boeing and the entire aerospace supply chain are facing likely slowdowns, furloughs and serious disruption.”
He also said that a fourth of the state’s employment security department could be furloughed in the coming weeks unless Congress passes a spending bill to allow the government to pay its bills.
The state is currently using its own funds to keep processing unemployment claims, but Inslee said the situation is “unsustainable” because the money will eventually dry up.
The aerospace industry is also on edge, he said, citing a recent survey by the state’s Commerce Department that found the partial shutdown “will directly affect revenues, slow down sales and materials and plans.”
“We’re not a hostage,” he said. “We’re a state that’s trying to rebuild our economy.”
Inslee turned over the microphone to the chief executive officer of a Lakewood company that makes gear for soldiers in the field. He told reporters that his company has laid off 75 people as a result of the shutdown.
“We can’t build it, and we can’t get it to them,” said Casey Ingels of Tactical Tailors, noting that federal employees aren’t available to take orders, field phone calls or receive equipment.
“We still have a war going on in Afghanistan,” Ingels said. “What’s happening now is unconscionable. We need action and we need leadership in order to make sure our down-range soldiers are supported.”
Inslee decried the imminent suspension of a federally funded program to help 4,900 Washington veterans — 530 of them in King County — transition into jobs.
Specialists at the state employment services department who match up veterans with employers are expected to be furloughed on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, he said the state’s new health-insurance exchange — Washington Healthplanfinder — has had about 180,000 visits to its website since it began operating Tuesday. About 30,000 accounts were created by people shopping for insurance coverage that will begin on Jan. 1, 2014, Inslee said. The governor urged Republican House Speaker John Boehner to call for a vote on a spending bill to allow the government to function.
“We cannot allow this inexplicable hatred of giving people health insurance to lead us into an economic crisis, and that’s where we’re headed,” Inslee said. “Imagine if President Obama tomorrow announced that if the Republican party did not pass the closure of the gun-show loophole he was going to shut down the government and perhaps default on the federal debt. It would be deranged, and it’s deranged right now what’s going on in the House of Representatives.”