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Shutdown averted, for now

Capt. Randy Towe (right) guides Greg Poland searching for mangrove snapper in Everglades National Park on Oct. 17, 2013, the day after that year’s shutdown ended.
Capt. Randy Towe (right) guides Greg Poland searching for mangrove snapper in Everglades National Park on Oct. 17, 2013, the day after that year’s shutdown ended. Bob Care

Florida Keys flats guides and others can breathe easier, at least for seven days.

Friday, the U.S. House passed a continuing resolution to keep the federal government operating for another week as they work to get a long-term federal budget passed. They also delayed another vote to replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act. Replacing the ACA has been a priority for Republicans.

If the federal government had closed down at midnight Friday, Dry Tortugas National Park and Everglades National Park would have been off limits. Florida Bay fishing guides rely on the Everglades park to make their living taking visitors fishing.

A shutdown would have been a replay from 2013, when the government shut down 1,000 square miles of park waters for 16 days due to a budget standoff and guides were not permitted to fish park waters.

“It was brutal,” Key Largo fishing captain Lain Goodwin recalled Tuesday.

“May is the busiest time for everybody,” Steve Friedman said earlier this week. Friedman is commodore of the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association. “We’re talking about hundreds, maybe thousands, of guides.”

And the tourists who hire them stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants, so there would be a trickle-down effect.

The Keys’ four national wildlife refuges also would have shut, as would have the federal courthouse on Simonton Street in Key West. The U.S. Guard would not have been affected by a shutdown.

“The best we can do is kick the can down the road for a week, and we’ll have this debate again next week,” said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), a member of the House Rules Committee.

“I think it’s the wrong way to do business but I’m willing to wait five days to see what the long term plan is,” said. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), who has voted against continuing resolutions in the past.”

This report was supplemented with material from the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

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