Last Update: Thursday, December 05, 2013
|Lawmakers Feeling Heat from Government Shutdown|
|Written by Andrew Taylor Associated Press|
|Thursday, 03 October 2013 01:33|
PHOTO COURTESY OF OFA
More than 70 protesters show their support for Obama Careand their anger at the government shutdown in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Oct. 2
WASHINGTON (AP) – Lawmakers locked in a political stare-down were buffeted by rising anger from across the nation about a partial government shutdown that ruined vacations, sapped businesses and closed military cemeteries as far away as France.
Some on Capitol Hill ominously suggested Wednesday, Oct. 2, the impasse might last for weeks, but a few Republicans seemed ready to blink.
Republican Rep. Peter King of New York accused tea partybacked lawmakers of trying to "hijack the party" and said he senses that a growing number of rank-and-file House Republicans — perhaps as many as a hundred — are tired of the shutdown that began Oct. 1 and will be meeting to look for a way out.
But GOP leaders and tea party-backed members seemed determined to press on. The House GOP leadership announced plans to continue trying to open more popular parts of the government. They planned to pass five bills to open national parks, processing of veterans' claims, the Washington, D.C., government, medical research, and to pay members of the National Guard.
The White House immediately promised a veto, saying opening the government on a piecemeal basis is unacceptable.
"Instead of opening up a few government functions, the House of Representatives should re-open all of the government," the White House said in an official policy statement.
The move presented Democrats with politically challenging votes but they rejected the idea, saying it was unfair to pick winners and losers as federal employees worked without a guarantee of getting paid and the effects of the partial shutdown rippled through the country and the economy.
Funding for much of the U.S. government was halted after Republicans hitched a routine spending bill to their effort to kill or delay the health care law they call "ObamaCare." The president accuses them of holding the government hostage.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a tea party favorite, said there would be no solution until President Barack Obama and Democrats who control the Senate agree to discuss problems with the nation's unfolding health care overhaul.
"The pigsty that is Washington, D.C., gets mud on a lot of people and the question is what are you going to do moving forward," Chaffetz, R-Utah, said on CBS' "This Morning."
Meanwhile, another financial showdown even more critical to the economy was looming.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress that unless lawmakers act in time, he will run out of money to pay the nation's bills by Oct. 17. Congress must periodically raise the limit on government borrowing to keep U.S. funds flowing, a once-routine matter that has become locked in battles over the federal budget deficit.
Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat, said Democrats would overwhelmingly accept a short-term spending measure to reopen the government and increase the nation's debt limit while other political differences are worked out. "That would be a responsible way to go," Hoyer told CNN.
At issue is the need to pass a temporary funding bill to keep the government open since the start of the new budget year on Oct. 1.
Congress has passed 87 temporary funding bills since 1999, virtually all of them without controversy. Now, conservative Republicans have held up the measure in the longshot hope of derailing or delaying ObamaCare.
House Speaker John Boehner blamed the shutdown on President Barack Obama's "scorched-Earth policy of refusing to negotiate" with Republicans.
"Washington Democrats have slammed the door on reopening the government by refusing to engage in bipartisan talks," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in an op-ed for Wednesday's USA Today.
Fed-up Americans took to Facebook and Twitter to call members of Congress "stupid" or "idiots." Some blamed Republicans while others blasted Obama or Democrats "who spend our tax dollars like crack addicts."