The federal government is partially shut down this morning, but political spin machines seem to be running at top speed as each party blames the other for the slow-motion train wreck in the nation’s capital.
Democrats are accusing Republicans in the House of Representatives of shutting down government in a futile attempt to unravel President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Republicans are blaming the White House and Senate Democrats for refusing to consider changes to the health care law as part of a deal to keep the government running.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., laid the blame squarely on House Republicans this morning in a written statement this morning, saying:
“The House of Representatives has shut down the government of the United States by rejecting an interim spending measure passed by the Senate, even though that bill accepted the House’s own spending target through November 15. This action hurts the American economy and millions of Americans. The House should reconsider its action and re-open government immediately.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., sounded a similar note late yesterday afternoon, as a shutdown seemed inevitable:
“It is disappointing that the House majority is prepared to shut down the federal government in its continuing ideological opposition to the Affordable Care Act. This is not a responsible way to conduct our nation’s business. It threatens the economic recovery. It also is not fair to target the federal workforce to bear the brunt of this dysfunction. The Senate has now sent a clean interim spending measure to the House twice – a measure which already reflects compromise between the Senate and House spending plans. The House leadership should allow members to cast an up-or-down vote.”
That’s not how House Republicans see it. Here’s what the three Republican congressmen who represent parts of Southwest Virginia had to say last night when the GOP-controlled House passed a plan that would keep government running and delay enforcement of the health care law’s so-called “individual mandate” :
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County:
“Tonight’s vote marks the third time in the past two weeks the House has taken common sense, bipartisan steps to ensure the federal government remains funded. Unfortunately, earlier today the Senate once again failed to act on the proposal passed by the House late Saturday night. Because of the Senate’s refusal to act, this evening the House presented yet another offer to Harry Reid and the Democratic Leadership to keep the federal government open. This common sense bill offered by the House would keep the government running, delay Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance or pay a tax for one year, and ensure Members of Congress and the President are not given special treatment. Importantly, this legislation gives individual Americans the same one-year delay from Obamacare President Obama has already given to business employers and labor unions. This is an issue of fairness.
“The bottom line is that the House has acted three times to avert a government shutdown while the Senate has shown no willingness to compromise. I do not want to see the government shut down and neither do the American people. I urge the Senate to stop the tabling motions, stop the delaying, and act now to keep the federal government open and enact common sense changes to Obamacare.”
Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham:
“As of tonight, we in the House have been working for the past two weeks to offer proposals to fund the government. We’ve now passed three proposals, and the Senate refuses to compromise.
“Each proposal we have passed embraces reasonable and responsible spending reform and extends to Virginia families the same reprieve from the harmful effects of the healthcare law that the President has extended to favored special interests here in Washington.
“Tonight’s amendment includes a one-year delay in the Affordable Care Act individual mandate. Further, it requires Members of Congress and their staff to participate in the President’s healthcare exchanges without employer subsidies.
“Our nation has borrowed $17 trillion, and Washington borrows 30 cents on every dollar it spends. The President’s healthcare law is contributing significantly to this spending by driving up costs and reducing choices for healthcare providers, for Main Street businesses, and, most important, for Virginia families. We must take every opportunity here in Washington to embrace reasonable spending reform and to protect Virginia families from the harmful economic consequences of the President’s healthcare law.
“It is my hope that we will be able to find agreement in avoiding a shutdown, and we will continue to work in good-faith to achieve that end.”
Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem issued this statement before the House floor vote:
“I remain opposed to the health care law known as Obamacare, and think it is bad medicine for Americans. I will continue working to repeal and defund it. As our work on that issue continues, I will be supporting the House of Representative’s latest efforts to compromise, keep the government open, and control spending. With the passage of this compromise by the House, the Senate will again have the opportunity to join us in keeping the government open and ensuring fairness for all under Obamacare. A vote in favor of this proposal would make sure that the President and Congress have to live with Obamacare like other Americans, and also would delay the individual mandate on the American people as President Obama delayed the employer mandate for American businesses. I would strongly encourage the Senate to join us in supporting this measure.”