Boxer: EPA will return to full strength as quickly as possible after shutdown

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Boxer’s comments came as House and Senate leadership was scrambling to put the finishing touches on a bill to fund the government and raise the country’s debt ceiling before a Thursday deadline.

About 94 percent of the workers at the EPA have been furloughed, halting the vast majority of the agency's operations for more than two weeks during the shutdown.

On Tuesday, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee highlighted 10 reasons why the government shutdown “isn’t all bad,” noting that furloughed EPA workers “makes it less likely that they'll make up science on new regulations,” among other effects. 

Democrats on Wednesday disagreed, and said that the furloughs amounted to cops being taken off the beat to protect public health and the environment.

“How would we like to live in a community where there’s no police officers, expecting everybody would be just fine? That’s not the real world,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

They noted that infrastructure projects have been halted by the shutdown, and communities reliant on tourism have been hurt by closures to national parks and wildlife refuges.

“It’s killing the tourism business in so many parts of our nation, right before winter hits. It’s hurting people now,” Boxer said.

The shutdown, Democrats said, has prevented the Army Corps of Engineers from permitting new infrastructure projects. Among those projects stuck in bureaucratic limbo is a proposal to dredge the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii.

“This is where our navy ships come in,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said. “This affects national security.”

Boxer said that the effects of the shutdown should discourage lawmakers from allowing funding to run out ever again.

“We want to make the record clear so that this never happens again,” she said. “There’s a reason why the government hasn’t been shut down since the '90s. It’s because the pain that was inflicted on our country.” 

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