With the federal government days away from a possible shutdown, Virginia’s two U.S. senators were together on television this morning discussing the potential impacts of a shutdown and the political theater playing out in Washington.
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine spoke on MSNBC from Mount Vernon, where they were to participate in the formal opening of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. The two Democrats criticized Republicans in the House of Representatives for demanding defunding of the new federal health care law as a condition for funding the government beyond the start of the new fiscal year, which begins Tuesday.
“There’s a time to fight about Obamacare; there’s a time also to make sure the functions of government proceed,” said Warner, the state’s senior senator.
Kaine said the Senate could be equally aggressive about attaching its priorities to a continuing resolution to fund the government. But the tactic is wrong-headed, he said.
“We care about the farm bill, but it’s wrong to wrap it up with the shutdown of government,” Kaine said. “We ought to continue government forward, and then we’ll debate about the farm bill, we’ll debate about Obamacare, we’ll debate about immigration reform. But you shouldn’t wrap it up with the threat of a government shutdown. It’s dealing in bad faith and it’s hurting Americans and the economy by doing so.”
Warner, who has been trying to build bipartisan support for a comprehensive debt and deficit-reduction package, invoked Washington when talking about how the country should tackle its fiscal challenges.
“Washington was a fiscal conservative but, you know, you had to pay your bills and . . . put country first,” Warner said. “Somehow that seems to be lost by, I would say, some folks in both parties.”