CUMBERLAND — Speaking in vibrant tones and with a bit of anger in his voice, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin Friday castigated the recent federal government shutdown and some House Republicans he considered responsible for the shutdown.
“The shutdown was a self-inflicted wound that hurt our country,” Cardin said. Among other things, it led President Barack Obama to cancel a trip to Asia which was then dominated by Chinese officials, Cardin said.
“You can’t govern from one manufactured crisis to another,” said Cardin, occasionally pounding the podium, as if to re-emphasize the vim and vigor with which his words were spoken. “Let’s compromise, that’s what the American people want us to do,” Cardin said.
Cardin interspersed his comments on the shutdown with words of praise for staff and board members of the Allegany County Human Re-sources Development Commission.
“I’ve looked at the numbers ... the work is done by the people in this room. You’re making a difference in people’s lives,” Cardin said. Because older people make up a large portion of the county’s population, the HRDC plays a critical role in many senior’s lives, Cardin said.
“You have the right to expect a federal partner that is reliable,” Cardin said. The work of the HRDC depends on both the private sector and federal, state and local government.
“You have the support of the private sector, the state and the county,” Cardin said. While there may be debate about how much federal support there should be, it should be certain and not subject to shutdowns, which could have interrupted Head Start programs, Cardin said.
“Let’s negotiate a budget that allows us to be a reliable partner,” Cardin said of the federal government. The government should focus on policies that make things easier rather than more difficult for the average American, Cardin said. Important bills are coming up, including the farm bill, and partisan gridlock must be ended, Cardin said.
All those who work and volunteer with HRDC are doing valuable work, Cardin said.
“My message to you is God bless you for everything you do to help the most vulnerable in this community,” Cardin said.
Cardin did try to lighten the serious nature of his speech, at least once.
“It’s a pleasure to be here ... any excuse to get out of Washington makes me happy,” Cardin said.
HRDC Executive Director Courtney Thomas praised Cardin as an ardent supporter of HRDC.
“We know we can count on him,” Thomas said.
Cardin spoke Friday at the HRDC annual meeting at the Cumberland Holiday Inn.
Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at email@example.com.