Congressional leaders respond to shutdown's effect on Token Adams' family

Posted at: 10/02/2013 6:14 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The family of a fallen firefighter can’t get his federal benefits – all because of gridlock in Congress.

Token Adams died in the line of duty last month. The shutdown cancelled a meeting his family was supposed to have Wednesday about getting his federal benefits.

While New Mexico lost Token Adams the wildland firefighter – his family lost a loving husband and father.

“It’s hard driving into the mountains,” Hiedi Adams said, “'Cause I see him.”

Hiedi Adams learned it will be four weeks before she can get any federal benefits for herself and their two young children. Though they’ve gotten help from the community, they know other families aren’t as fortunate.

“You know you have families who are both on government pay and you think up to four weeks without a paycheck, what's that going to do for their families?” Adams said.

KOB reached out to Congressional representatives with this story of how the shutdown affects real families. Here are the statements we received:

Senator Tom Udall:

"My heart goes out to Hiedi Adams and her young family. Her husband was killed keeping our community safe. She's been through a horrible tragedy, and it's extremely sad that the federal government shutdown is prolonging this difficult process. This is an example of how regular citizens are being hurt by the dysfunction in Congress, and unfortunately there are many other people in a similar position, waiting for benefits they rely on. 

"This shutdown is hurting our economy more every day. It's hurting federal government employees who are going without pay when they need to make their rent or mortgage and buy groceries. And it's hurting citizens who depend on the government for services. What's the most frustrating is that it isn't necessary. The Senate has twice passed a clean bill to keep the government open. We know the House of Representatives would pass it if their leaders would allow it to come to a vote. I hope the House leaders will come to their senses and help us put workers back on the job, serving the public."

Representative Michelle Lujan-Grisham:

“This heartbreaking story is yet another example of how the government shutdown is harming New Mexicans. Over the past several days, I’ve heard from countless constituents who are negatively impacted by the shutdown, and they’re demanding the House pass a clean funding bill to re-open the government and restore vital services. If House Republicans would only allow a vote on this clean Senate-passed continuing resolution, we could end this irresponsible, reckless Republican government shutdown right now.”

Representative Ben Lujan:

“The government shutdown is hurting families across New Mexico.  Workers are being furloughed and benefits are being delayed.  The fact is, if a clean funding bill were brought up, it would pass with bipartisan support and this shutdown could end today.  But Tea Party Republicans refuse to let us have that vote.  Unfortunately, they seem to care more about making a political statement than about the impact this is having on people in our communities.  It’s time to end the political games and vote on the bill that we all know would end this shutdown.”