Editorial: Call Congress on shutdown
Op-Ed · October 11, 2013

This past week, the owners of Reid’s Beans, Laura Rierson and Jonathan Blundall, contacted U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack about how the government shutdown is impacting their business. On Sunday, the congressman visited their coffee shop to talk to them in person.

Now, it would be unreasonable for Loebsack to meet face-to-face with everyone upset over the shutdown, but contacting him with our concerns is what we need to do to help him share those needs with others in the U.S. House.

Likewise, we need to call on Sens. Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley with those same concerns.

When the midnight deadline approached in the late hours of Sept. 30, we thought that, like the last two deadlines, Congress would reach a deal and avert the shutdown. We were genuinely surprised when an agreement did not materialize.

Now, more than a week later, we are frustrated to see little real movement between the House and Senate to reach a compromise to reopen the agencies that make up 17 percent of the federal budget.

What we do see are the barricades at the entrances to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Presidential Library-Museum. The barricades do not really appear to be a serious attempt to keep people out — pedestrians can easily walk around them and those blocking the library entrance are spaced to provide access to the Hoover Association, which, as a private group, remains open. Those barricades simply seem to be there to send the scripted message, from the National Park Service and National Archives and Records Administration, that the park is closed.

But we also see the familiar faces of Hoover Complex staff walking and driving around town, minus their uniforms. Superintendent Pete Swisher even drove a truck pulling the St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church float in the West Branch High School Homecoming parade.

These are our friends, our neighbors, and they need our support. Just like Rierson and Blundall did, they need us each to call our congressmen.

Loebsack’s office phone number in Iowa City is 319-351-0789; in D.C., it is 202-225-6576 or toll free at 866-914-IOWA (4692). His Web site is

Harkin’s Web site states that his offices in D.C. and Iowa are closed. However, there is a link on the top of the page for a Web form which will “be monitored for emergency needs only.” His site is

Grassley’s Cedar Rapids’ office number is 319-363-6832 and his D.C. number is 202-224-3744. His Web site is

Please take a few minutes to contact our representatives in Washington to encourage them to reopen the Hoover Complex, and all other agencies currently shut down due to the budget impasse.

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