Fatal Crash Interstate Fire Florida

Debris off the south bound side of Interstate 75 remains at the scene of Thursday's multi-vehicle accident that caused multiple fatalities between Alachua and Gainesville, Fla., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP)

Last week, five Louisiana children on their way to Disney World were among seven people killed in a horrific multi-vehicle traffic accident near Gainesville, Florida.

Now, because of the ongoing federal government shutdown, the nation’s top investigators can’t start their work to determine what happened. Staffers for the National Transportation Safety Board, which gets involved in probing major crashes like the Florida accident, have been furloughed as part of the shutdown. It was prompted by a dispute between President Donald Trump and Congress over his request for billions of dollars to build a border wall near Mexico — a wall candidate Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for. Security is important, but key parts of the border already have a wall.

Accident investigations work best when officials can begin their work promptly. But because of pointless political posturing, Louisiana families who have suffered terrible losses are being denied answers about why their loved ones died.

Those families, and the rest of the country, deserve a government that’s open for business. What they’re getting, instead, is a national disgrace.