Locals Criticize Carbajal for Government Shutdown Vote

Image Courtesy of Salud Carbajal

Arturo Samaniego
National Beat Reporter

Congressman Salud Carbajal, who represents Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, came under fire for voting for a spending bill which funds the government until Feb. 8.

House of Representatives passed H.R. 195, a spending bill, which failed in the Senate. This lead to the subsequent government shutdown that occurred from Jan. 20 to 22.

A lot of the criticism towards Carbajal has to do with what the government shutdown came to represent: a demand for legal protection for Dreamers. Dreamers are individuals granted protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and their immigration statuses remain unclear when Trump’s administration rescinded DACA back in September.

Because he voted for H.R. 195, some people accused Carbajal of betraying Dreamers and going back on his promises to do everything in his power to support immigration reform in Congress.

“I am very proud of my record on immigration reform,” Carbajal said in an interview with The Bottom Line. He denied allegations that he faltered in his commitment to pursue comprehensive immigration reform.

Carbajal cited numerous legislation he has supported while in Congress, such as H.R. 60, a bill to allow undocumented individuals to serve in the armed services, and H.R. 3440. H.R. 3440 is a bill to cancel possible deportations of any Dreamers. These bills are examples of Carbajal’s dedication to protect undocumented individuals.

Committees in the House of Representatives are still reviewing both of these bills, and they have yet to receive a floor vote.

Carbajal said that his vote for H.R. 195 was not an easy decision.

“I see all my constituencies as one big family,” Carbajal said. He said that as a Congressman, he has to weigh the needs of all his constituents and do what is best for everyone.

Carbajal also said that he voted for H.R. 195 because the government shutdown was nearing the Thomas Fire, which destroyed 1,063 structures, and the Montecito mudslides, which killed over 20 individuals, destroyed 127 homes, and led to the Highway 101 closure. 

In the case of H.R. 195, Carbajal said he voted in an effort to avert a government shutdown that would impact individual assistance and relief programs provided by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Carbajal stated that the agencies in charge of these relief programs could not guarantee him that assistance would continue if the government shut down.

In the case of a lapse in appropriations, “recovery payments for presidential disaster declarations will be delayed because FEMA staff who process Public Assistance payments will be furloughed,” according to a statement that FEMA released. 

Because of the potential delay to assist individuals impacted by recent natural disasters, “I could not, in good conscience, vote to close down the government,” Carbajal said. 

He further said that if all claims relating to the recent natural disasters are processed by the next deadline to pass a budget, he would have no problem voting against a continuing resolution to keep the government open.

Carbajal highlighted that the natural disasters negatively impacted local undocumented community and other communities. “There are thousands of workers documented and undocumented who, because of the freeway closures and recent fires, were unable to get to work,” he said.

Furthermore, Carbajal said it was important to ensure that relief programs that FEMA provided were not disrupted because undocumented individuals qualify for FEMA services if they have a child who is a citizen.

On a final note, Carbajal announced in a press release that he is donating his salary acquired during the government shutdown to the Direct Relief Mudslide Fund, “helping aid local recovery efforts on the Central Coast,” and to the Adsum Education Foundation, which provides scholarships to Dreamers who do not have access to financial aid.