Democrats press Boehner to allow clean continuing resolution for House vote

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) SOURCE: C-Span.org

Top Democratic lawmakers yesterday amplified their calls on Republican House Speaker John Boehner to bring up the Senate’s “clean” continuing resolution for a vote in the House to re-open the federal government.

“[Boehner is] sitting on a bill that would re-open the government right now. This bill would pass in a matter of minutes if they just let Democrats and Republicans [in the House] vote,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “He doesn’t even have to vote for him. Let him vote against it but let the House work its will.”

In a letter sent to Boehner, Reid proposed that once the House approves a clean CR – without any amendments to delay or dismantle the Affordable Care Act – to fund the federal government for another 6 weeks, the Senate will then meet with the House to negotiate a longer-term budget deal to “work out the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.”

“There needs to be a path forward to re-open the government and protect our economy. This is a communication to you offering a sensible, reasonable compromise,” wrote Reid. “I propose you allow the joint resolution to pass, reopening the government. And I commit to name conferees to a budget conference as soon as the government opens. That conference can discuss the important fiscal issues facing our nation. You and your colleagues have repeatedly cited these fiscal issues as things in which you need to work. This conference will be an appropriate place to have those discussions where participants could raise whatever proposals, such as tax reform, health care, agriculture, and certainly discretionary spendings like veterans, national parks, NIH, they felt appropriate. I hope we can work together in this fashion. Together we can end this government shutdown and work to address the important fiscal issues facing our nation.”

Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed out that the clean CR would fund the federal government at the level – between $986 billion or $988 billion – already approved by House Republicans. That level would lock in the painful sequester – or across-the-board – cuts to discretionary programs such as the National Institutes of Health, Head Start early childhood education, national parks, and even the National Security Agency which had to furlough 70% of its civilian employees.

“I don’t know why they haven’t accepted their own number,” said Pelosi. “You know that our members do not like the $988. Most of them have dug in their heels to say they would never support the $988. But to open government, that opinion is a luxury we can’t afford on the side of the Democrats or the Republicans so we’re willing to compromise to accept their number.”

Pelosi also pointed out that Democrats are willing to meet with Republicans in conference to discuss a bigger budget deal – something the Democrats have been pursuing for the past 6 months to no avail – but emphasized that the conference can and should take place without shutting down the government.

“We’d just have to find a way and we have to find a path that they can go down. But if they keep moving the goal post and won’t even accept their own number – …if they don’t take yes for an answer, then I could only conclude that they wanted to shut down government, that they think that that has a purpose for them,” said Pelosi. “And we know what that is – they want to overturn the Affordable Care Act. That’s not going to happen. And frankly, that’s not what our Constitution had in mind – if you don’t like something, you threaten to shut down the government. It’s not that kind of a system.”

Day 2 of the government shutdown ended with a meeting between top Democratic and Republican lawmakers at the White House.

Statements made the press after the meeting indicated that no agreement was reached to re-open the government.

Boehner insisted that a conference – requested by House Republicans late Monday night just hours before the shutdown – be held to negotiate the federal budget. The Speaker dodged questions by reporters on why he has refused to allow a vote on the clean CR in the house.

“We’ve appointed conferees on the House side to sit down and work with our Senate colleagues. It’s time for them to appoint conferees,” said Boehner. “All we’re asking for here is a discussion and fairness for the American people under Obamacare.”

Reid confirmed that Boehner wants to go to conference on just the short-term CR to re-open the government, which Reid pointed out is inadequate given that the debt ceiling deadline is rapidly approaching.

“We have the debt ceiling staring us in the face! And he wants to talk about a short-term CR? I thought that they were concerned about the long-term fiscal affairs of this country and we said we are too, let’s talk about it. My friend, John Boehner, I repeat, cannot take yes for an answer” said Reid.

He added, “This has never happened before. They can make all the historical analysis that they want. This has never happened before where a political party would be willing to take the country to the brink of financial disaster and say, “We’re not going to allow us to pay our bills.” The President said he will not stand for that.…And I said, ‘Happy to work with you on a way out of this.’ But we are where we are. We’re through playing these little games and it’s all focused on Obamacare. That’s all it’s about.”

The shutdown prompted public outcries over the stoppage of important government services, notably the NIH cancer research program and the closure of federal parks and monuments that drive tourism.

House Republicans tried to maneuver around those criticisms by passing piece meal legislations to fund the NIH, the National Parks and Smithsonian, and the National Guards and armed forces reserves,  in what Democrats called a “cynical attempt to pit important programs against each other“.

House Republicans are trying to “pit kids who should be enrolled in Head Start against kids who should be enrolled in cancer trials…to pit families who want to visit the Statute of Liberty against families who own a small business and need help from the SBA [Small Business Administration]…pit Americans against one another,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) insisted that Republicans should “ultimately open up the government because there are so many agencies critically important to our country that are closed down today for no earthly reason.”

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2 Comments on “Democrats press Boehner to allow clean continuing resolution for House vote

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Press briefing remarks by Republican House Speaker John Boehner after a White House meeting on the government shutdown on Oct. 2, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Federal Budget 2013-14 | What The Folly?!

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