As I write this letter, we are in the second week of a government shutdown that should have never occurred. A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass, or the president refuses to sign, appropriations legislation funding federal government operations and agencies.

Per section 7 of The Constitution of the United States,  this is one of the most basic functions of our elected officials, but unfortunately, since 1976, 22 gaps in federal budget funding have occurred, 10 of which have led to the furlough of “non-essential ” federal employees and curtailment of agency activities and services. Essential employees are still required to work without pay until the government reopens.

As we know, the current shutdown centers over proposed funding for a US–Mexico border wall. Granted, this is a difficult and emotional issue; however, both political parties refused to address and resolve it during the normal legislative season. Unfortunately, their incompetence has resulted in members of the U.S. Coast Guard and other “mission essential” civil servants (fire and police) who risk their lives not being paid. I find it unconscionable that while these men and women risk their lives on a daily basis, our elected “leaders” chose to depart Washington, receive their paycheck, and choose not to work to resolve this current impasse – a complete and total dereliction of duty and the oath they took to uphold. Real leaders lead by example and compromise to resolve issues, not cut and run while playing politics with the lives of civil servants who protect this nation at great personal sacrifice.

Yes, this shutdown, unfortunately, will not be the last, but it is a national disgrace and hurts those who can least afford it.

James R. Poplar III, Quickburg