POSTED: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 6:36pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 3:03pm
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A group of demonstrators gathered outside Congressman Steve Pearce's Las Cruces office to urge the congressman to help put an end to the federal shutdown.
A group of about 20 demonstrators organized by Progress Now New Mexico and the Center For Civic Action carried signs and spoke on how furloughs have hurt families and impacted the state economy.
"I find it incredibly disheartening that he (Steve Pearce) would think that something like this like a shutdown would benefit our country," said Angelica Rubio, a demonstrator with the group.
While the shutdown continues, funding to national laboratories has now become a concern with the possibility of those employees being furloughed.
The Center for Civic Action and Progress Now New Mexico estimated up to 20,000 federal workers could be furloughed.
"That's research that just doesn't stop for a shutdown like this, a temper tantrum," said Javier Benavidez, communications dIrector for the Center for Civic Action. "i think New Mexicans understand that and are frustrated."
On Friday, the house passed a bill providing temporary funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration which funds the labs.
Pearce voted in favor of the bill.
“Today’s vote to fund the NNSA is key to the security of our nation, and assures that the hard-working employees of Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs will continue to have jobs,” Pearce said in a statement Friday.
The bill is now at the senate for consideration, but as has been the case with 10 other bills, the democratic controlled senate has blocked them.
"I think it's now just a target against a willingness to work with their counterparts," Rubio said.
Some of the protestors argued the shutdown is motivated by the Affordable Care Act, which Pearce has been outspoken about.
"If that's the ransom compromising the Affordable Care Act from moving on from this shutdown, people tend to side with lets just move on," Benavidez said.
Pearce was not in his office this afternoon but the protestors did leave written messages for the congressman.
Pearce's Communications Director Eric Layer responded in a statement to the protest and the ongoing shutdown.
“Congressman Pearce has heard from many New Mexicans who are both supportive and angry about the partial shutdown. The challenge is Federal government spending is out of control. We have been warned that we can’t keep spending into debt. If you have an income of $29,000 you can’t keep spending $38,000 year after year. The Congressman is willing to work with anyone to tackle this problem. Congressman Pearce is committed to a solution that protects our jobs not only today, but in the long term. Congressman Pearce values and listens to the feedback from all New Mexicans, and understands people are angry and frustrated. He is hopeful for a compromise solution. In the meantime, Congressman Pearce has voted to fund the labs and other key government functions, and hopes the Senate will pass these bills soon,” Layer said.