(GREELY, Colo.) — Vice President Joe Biden Monday reassured victims of Colorado’s recent floods that a looming federal government shutdown would not interrupt the federal aid for recovery and rebuilding efforts.
The idea of a shutdown is “probably going to scare the living devil out of you,” Biden said. “You have reason to be scared, but not in terms of disaster relief. None of it is going to be impacted.”
If Congress does not pass a funding measure in the next eight days, the federal government will shut down effective Oct. 1. It would shutter some government services and likely delay distribution of benefit payments, but not stop them outright. Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over a compromise bill and whether funding for Obamacare should be included.
“I don’t want people to see the dysfunction of Congress and thinking all the relief efforts are going to shut down,” Biden added. “They will not shut down even if the Congress doesn’t fund the federal government with a continuing resolution.”
Biden spoke after a first-hand look at some of the areas hardest hit by the floods during an hour-long helicopter tour near Greely, Colo., north of Denver.
The VP’s aerial convoy, carrying Biden, Gov. John Hickenlooper, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate and other officials, flew from Buckley Air Force Base up and back along U.S. 36, then west into Estes Park and down Big Thompson Canyon.
The group witnessed remnants of homes and businesses destroyed by walls of mud, roads washed away, and once-fertile fields turned into mud pits, according to a print pool reporter along for the ride. The tour also surveyed forest fire burn zones in Boulder and Larimer counties.
“Once all these cameras are gone, once all these news conferences are over, FEMA and the Red Cross are going to be here until we make you whole,” Biden said after the tour.
The floods, stemming from days of incessant rain that began on Sept. 11, inundated roughly 2,000 square miles across 17 Colorado counties, nearly 2,000 homes and hundreds of businesses. Eight people were killed, one person is missing and presumed dead, and six others are missing, state officials say.
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