A key member of the House Appropriations Committee says the government shutdown developed because of the irresponsibility of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate.
“We worked late into the morning trying to come up with something that would be suitable for Harry Reid and the Senate Dems and, unfortunately, they didn’t want to negotiate so we’re in the situation we find ourselves in,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., in an interview with WND’s Greg Corombos.
House Republicans and Senate Democrats remain at an impasse over government funding as Democrats refuse to even consider any attempts by House Republicans to fix problems in Obamacare that have been raised by their constituents.
House Republicans have put forward multiple bills calling for a complete funding of the federal government at existing levels.
The plans also have, at various times, specified a complete defunding of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), a one-year delay in implementation of Obamacare, a one-year delay for the individual mandate, a repeal of the medical device tax and a requirement that members of Congress and their staffers follow the same rules as everyone else with respect to the new health laws.
The final offer, early Tuesday morning, would have created a House-Senate Conference Committee to hammer out an agreement. All of those bills passed the House but all died in the Senate along party line votes.
“The responsible thing for the Senate to do is to appoint conferees who will negotiate and come up with ideas,” Kingston said. “I think John Kennedy was the one who said compromise is the concrete of democracy and here we have a president who was playing golf on Saturday and a Senate that adjourned and then they come back to say, ‘We’re not compromising. We’re not going to negotiate.’ I think it’s a very irresponsible decision.”
Democrats in the Senate are insisting that House Republicans only do what the Senate wants – a continuing resolution at existing spending rates through mid-November. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski insists that would pass the House if Republican leaders would simply allow a vote on the “clean” resolution.
“That’s not accurate because if that was the case, then these other three versions of compromises would’ve been voted down and people would have said, ‘We want to have that.’ She’s not a member of the House. She’s not on the whip team. She basically doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” he said.
Kingston said the Hastert Rule is largely in effect as the House GOP plots strategy. The Hastert Rule refers to a practice generally followed by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert that requires a majority of Republicans to support legislation before moving forward.
“I’d say yes and no. It’s not necessarily a rule as much as it is a practice and a political courtesy because what the speaker wants to do is make sure he has a unified Republican conference,” he said. “We’ve been meeting every day, hammering out all kinds of ideas that we think could be acceptable to Democrats. We’ve stayed unified. Certainly there are degrees of unity. Not everyone likes everything.
“The reality is we are largely unified and what we are unified about is the national debt being 100 percent of the GDP and for every dollar we spend 42 cents is borrowed. And we’re unified by the fact that Obamacare is a disaster. It was supposed to bring down the cost of health care, and it has not. It was supposed to increase the access and it has not. This is a principles argument based on the fact that America is going broke and the fact that this president wants to add to that a $1.7 trillion piece of legislation called Obamacare that socializes one-sixth of the economy,” he said. “These are not small issues. This is deep philosophical division.”
While Kingston is not happy to see a partial government shutdown, he said the last time this happened the result was ultimately very good for the nation because Congress and President Bill Clinton worked to balance the budget and put the nation on a path to major economic growth.
The need for a continuing resolution reveals the fact Congress failed to pass the 13 individual appropriations bills in the normal process. In fact, none of them was passed, but Kingston said that’s not because Republicans didn’t do their jobs.
“We actually have them all ready to go to the floor, but we had passed five on the floor and the Senate had not passed a single one. We were just letting it pile up on the Senate steps so we quit. Last year, we passed seven and the Senate only passed one,” he said. “I am a firm believer in regular order. I’ve worked on a bill for 10 months that I’m not allowed to introduce right now and this is a bill that defunds Obamacare and brings spending levels back to 2002.”
“The leadership is saying if the Senate isn’t going to pass a bill, do we really need to bring it to the floor and spend all that time and put our members through very tough votes that are just academic,” he said. “That’s a breakdown in the system. I really strongly believe that these fiscal cliffs should not be the way to do business.”
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