Great Smoky Mountains National Park is back in business
Congressional gridlock that shuttered most federal government operations for 16 days ended Wednesday night, meaning the national park operations abutting Haywood County reopened for business.
The deal, which merely allows operations to resume as normal until February, also ended questions about education, childcare, nutrition and other programs that depend on federal funding.
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows voted against the agreement to reopen the government.
“Because it was inherently unfair to the American people and continued to give Congress a special deal on Obamacare, I could not support the final bill that passed the House tonight," Meadows said in a new release. "Furthermore, I believe it is important to give our business climate more certainty by providing long-term solutions to government appropriations and the debt ceiling. As this agreement has now been made, I anticipate ongoing budget negotiations to address our debt and deficit in a responsible way."
Both of North Carolina's senators supported the bipartisan agreement first reached in the Senate to reopen government operations and increase the federal debt limit to prevent the nation from defaulting on its bills.
“From the outset, I have been clear that I believed that defunding Obamacare by shutting down the federal government was unachievable," U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said in a news release. "The decision to shut down the government has been viewed, rightfully, by the American people as irresponsible governing."
Burr said he is hopeful Congress can now address reforms needed in entitlement programs and the tax code, address the rampant waste, fraud, and abuse in government spending, and get back to creating an environment that allows for economic expansion and job creation.
"This government shutdown was completely unnecessary," Hagan's news release stated. "Congress should have never gotten to the point where the government was shut down and on the verge of a default crisis, and no one should attempt to take a victory lap after tonight’s vote."
Even if the government stalemate had not been resolved, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park would have remained open at least through Sunday thanks to actions in North Carolina and Tennessee to provide state funding for the reopening.
Park operations resumed Wednesday after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced he would shift $75,000 from the state's tourism advertising budget to pay for park operations and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam put together a $305,000 package that would fund operations through midnight Sunday, Oct. 20.
By press time, no word was received on how much of the states' commitment would be needed since the government funding was restored after the president signed the bill on the debt ceiling and budget.
Western Carolina University Professor Steve Morse estimated that each day the park was closed represented a nearly $1 million loss in consumer spending in North Carolina.