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Samantha Gonzalez and Amanda Martinez sort through boxed lunches as volunteers stock a food pantry open to all federal employees effected by the government shutdown at First Baptist Church in Belle Chasse, La., Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Near to Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, the only branch of the armed services to impose furloughs on active duty service members, the food bank will be open Thursdays and Fridays.

In shutdown fight, Sen. John Kennedy holds fast to need for funding of border wall first

There’s an old superstition that what you do on New Year’s Day pretty much shapes what you do the rest of the year. That’s proven eerily true so far in Washington, D.C., where leaders started 2019 with a partial shutdown of the federal government that’s still lingering. The shutdown was prompted by a dispute between President Donald Trump and Congress over funding for a wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, a project he promised as a candidate that Mexico would pay for. Key parts of the border already have a wall, and not paying the thousands of federal employees who help protect us is decreasing our security, not enhancing it.

Americans seem to be getting used to the reality of vital public servants, such as Coast Guard personnel and airport security screeners, reporting to work but not getting paid. It’s a travesty, and not worthy of a great democracy, which is why we shouldn’t accept it as the new normal.

Here in Louisiana, where key priorities like improvements to storm forecasting could suffer because of the shutdown, it’s important that members of our congressional delegation work to bring this shutdown to a close.