As continued bickering between Congress and President Bush assured that non-essential federal services would remain shut down through Sunday or beyond, reaction from Utah's members of Congress ranged from frustration to outright anger.
Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, showed the frustration. "I'm frustrated, disappointed and think Congress is acting irresponsibly," he said as he boarded a plane for Utah.Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, showed the anger. "People are angry and they are disappointed because they want the government to function, not to disrupt their lives."
But Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, saw some silver lining among the clouds. He said Congress and President Bush were moving slowly toward new budget proposals - "any of which are better than what we rejected yesterday."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was unavailable for comment, as was Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, who was in Utah for a funeral and therefore missed most of the rare Saturday session of Congress. It is scheduled to meet again Sunday to try to find a way to reopen the government for business.
The federal government closed down non-essential services Saturday as the government technically ran out of money after President Bush vetoed a stop-gap funding bill because Congress did not attach with it the approval of a budget compromise - which the House rejected Friday.
The House tried to override Bush's veto Saturday to reopen the government, but failed 260-138 - six votes short of the two-thirds needed. Owens voted to override, Nielson voted to sustain and Hansen was absent.
Owens complained, "The president decided to close down the government instead of keeping it running. That will turn out, I believe, to be a costly mistake because enormous and widespread suffering will result."
He added, "The government cannot stop its essential functions without impacting very badly on business and the economy in general, and both are already in a serious downturn.
"Those who like the idea of forcing the government to close down have no idea what it means. . .. There will be no Medicare, no Social Security, no defense - none. For the first time in the history of the republic, the government will bounce checks."
But Nielson - who is one of the few House members who politically does not have to worry about how his voters will react to his budget votes because he is retiring - said he voted to sustain the veto to keep Congress working hard toward an acceptable budget.
While he said all the maneuvering is painful, it is still better than accepting a package he said proposed fake spending cuts, would hit the middle class too hard through increases in such things as gasoline tax and hit the elderly too hard through increases in Medicare.