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There is a reason why the Congress has an 18 percent approval rating.

One of the least popular political ploys in recent memory is the government shutdown, something that is employed every few years when the executive and legislative branches, and/or the parties, are at loggerheads. What’s particularly distasteful about this, every time, is that more work seems to be done in attempting to cast blame for the shutdown than in efforts to end it.

But the worst of it is that the little guy gets hurt while the leaders of our government wrangle and posture.

Montana, it turns out, is disproportionately affected by the ongoing shutdown. Obviously, our national parks are one of the most visible parts of the federal bailiwick under the Big Sky. But there are many others – not the least of which are federal Superfund sites like Butte and Anaconda.

EPA Region 8 Administrator Doug Benevento is determined that the current shutdown will not slow down the cleanups here. But some fallout seems inevitable.

Other government shutdowns have been petty power plays. But this one, as it becomes the longest shutdown ever, seems to take the prize.

There is not a crisis on the border. Violent crime is not up, there or elsewhere in the country. It is at a 14-year low. Immigrants here illegally do not commit a disproportionate amount of crimes. In fact, they commit less, on a per capita basis, than native-born Americans do. And a wall is not viewed by experts as the best tool to use in enforcing border security.

Why, then, is this worth shutting down the government?

Many federal workers here in Montana are working without pay. Others have simply been furloughed. Either way, their families are suffering needless hardship.

We absolutely concur with Montana’s Sen. Steve Daines, who has said repeatedly that members of Congress should not get paid while the government is held hostage, and has introduced a bill to that effect. “In Montana and across our country, folks are suffering at the expense of the political games being played in Washington,” he added.

Very true. And we also applaud Sen. Daines for his legislative effort to forestall future shutdowns.

But that begs the question of why Sen. Daines and his political allies in the Senate Republican caucus do not simply vote to reopen the government.

We urge them to do so, immediately.

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