As the House of Representatives continues to look at bills re-funding parts of the federal government, like National Parks, the National Institute of Health or the National Guard, the Senate vows a funding bill will be all or nothing.
“Why should we say that this person should be paid and not this person?” says Florida’s Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
Nelson tells WOKV he does not support any “piecemeal” funding effort because there are many valuable services that need funding, and he doesn’t want to prioritize any of them over the others. As an example, he cites furloughs that have hit across the intelligence community.
“The bad guys, the terrorists, are out there trying to do us in right now, and 72% of our people are not in doing all the intelligence work,” he says.
Nelson also rejected the idea that any political leverage can be gained by one party or the other with the shutdown.
“I don’t think anybody’s winning the debate until we open back up to the government,” he says.
But despite his insistence that smaller, departmental funding bills not be passed, there is one exemption he supports. He stands by the decision to let facilities working on the Maven Mars mission to open back up.
“This is a $650 million mission that’s been ten years in the making,” Nelson says.
There’s a narrow window to achieve the launch with this mission before mid-November. If that doesn’t happen, the next window doesn’t appear for several years. Nelson says that’s a bad investment.
“Tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars more of storage and keeping it [launch equipment] prepared, not to mention paying the scientists,” he says.
Those scientists and NASA employees working on this mission are not getting paid for their work right now, according to Nelson. He would also support legislation that would track the pay for these employees and reimburse them once the government is open again.