An effort to force a House vote on a “clean” continuing resolution to re-open the federal government “may become the parachute that saves us from crashing” if other plans fall through in the next day or so, Rep. George Miller said Tuesday afternoon.
A plan for the House to vote Tuesday evening on a GOP proposal to raise the debt limit and reopen the government appears to be on the rocks. House Republicans appear split on whether to support it, and the Democrat-led Senate probably wouldn’t pass it anyway because it would fund the government only through mid-December and it’s predicated on a tweak to the national health insurance law.
Senate leaders had been inching toward a deal of their own Monday, but that was put on hold Tuesday pending the House vote. If the Senate can’t return to the bargaining table, that leaves little time before Thursday’s deadline – after which the government loses its ability to borrow and won’t be able to pay its bills, triggering chaos in the world’s financial markets.
Democrats on Oct. 4 announced they would start a discharge petition to force a vote on a clean continuing resolution, but due to procedural requirements, they couldn’t start gathering signatures until Saturday. As of Tuesday afternoon, 196 Democrats had signed but no Republicans; 218 signatures are needed to force a vote.
House Democrats have been pressing 30 specific Republicans – who have voiced their distaste for their party’s shutdown strategy and said they would vote for a clean CR – to sign the discharge petition.
“They have not (signed) yet – they’re in negotiations, and this is a very heavy lift to join a discharge petition against your own leadership,” Miller, D-Martinez, said Tuesday, but he’s convinced enough will sign if there’s no other way to avoid the impending fiscal disaster.
“We’re 48 hours away from having a dual image flash across the world: The United States government is shut down AND it’s about to default on its debt,” he said. “That is a catastrophic image for our country.”
“This evening in the Roosevelt Room, the leaders laid out the House proposal to temporarily extend the debt limit, formally appoint budget negotiators, and begin immediate discussions over how to re-open the government. No final decisions were made; however, it was a useful and productive conversation. The President and leaders agreed that communication should continue throughout the night. House Republicans remain committed to good faith negotiations with the president, and we are pleased there was an opportunity to sit down and begin a constructive dialogue tonight.”
Meanwhile, 10 California Democrats took to the House floor today to complain of the damage that the shutdown is doing to the Golden State’s economy, even while there are enough House votes to reopen the government immediately.
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said the North Coast’s tourism economy is taking a beating as visitors are turned away from federal lands including Point Reyes National Seashore, Redwood National Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, causing local businesses to lose money.
“Visitors from all over America, and in fact all over the world, come to the North Coast’s public lands. Thanks to the Republican shutdown much of that economic activity is grinding to a halt,” Huffman said. “Let’s stop posturing, let’s stop the PR stunts, let’s stop the ‘Hollywood storefronts,’ stop deflecting, and stop insulting the intelligence of the American people. Let’s have an up or down vote to reopen our public lands and, indeed, to reopen our government.”
Elsewhere, Rep. Eric Swalwell announced he and other Bay Area lawmakers are urging U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to ensure that employees at national laboratories –contract workers who facing furlough if the shutdown goes on much longer – will get back pay once the federal government reopens, just as the House already has approved for federal workers.
Swalwell, D-Pleasanton represents Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories in Livermore, where 7,500 government contractors will be furloughed without pay starting Oct. 18 if the shutdown doesn’t end first.
“National lab employees in Livermore should not have to suffer because of a shutdown caused by the Tea Party,” Swalwell said in a news release. “Lab employees are dedicated public servants who are supporting our country’s national and energy security, and just because their paychecks stop doesn’t mean their bills won’t keep coming.”
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, represents the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, where 1,500 employees are at risk of being furloughed. “They are our nation’s premier scientists and engineers who daily are engaged in cutting-edge research that is changing the world,” Eshoo said.
“Congress has moved to provide back pay to hundreds of thousands of federal employees across the country who continue to suffer furloughs due to the unnecessary Republican shutdown of the government,” Lee said. “The scientists, technicians, and workers at our national labs make enormous contributions to this nation, and they deserve to be paid for their work..”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, is signing the letter too, as a longtime supporter of national lab and the fusion research conducted by the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore.
“We take pride in the cutting-edge advancements in our scientific research, but budget cuts and now a government shutdown are threatening these important undertakings,” Lofgren said. “It’s irresponsible political gamesmanship for Republicans to continue to refuse to put a clean funding bill before the House for a vote. If they did, it would pass, ending the harm that is being done to furloughed workers like these scientists and the vital research they are engaged in.”
Eight California lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were among more than 50 House members who gathered today in Washington, D.C., to urge congressional leaders and President Obama to “stop fighting and start fixing.”
Organized by the bipartisan group No Labels, the lawmakers who assembled in the Cannon House Office Building’s caucus room agreed leaders mustn’t let the nation default on its debt.
“The No Labels Problem Solvers and other members of Congress you see here today are ready to work together and support our respective leaderships in a bipartisan solution to the government shutdown and other crucial issues facing our country,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. “Let’s show some courage and work together like the American people expect and deserve.”
“The costs of the government shutdown are growing every day, and experts from all sides agree that failing to pay America’s bills would be disastrous for our economy,” Bera said in a news release. “It’s past time for us to stop blaming one another, and start talking about how to move forward for the good of the country. This is not about Democrats or Republicans; it’s about putting the American people before politics. Many of us are ready to begin working and solving our nation’s problems, but we need leadership that lets us do that work.”
A Northern California congressman is one of 10 House Republicans being hammered with a new TV ad over the federal government shutdown.
The liberal/labor-backed Americans United for Change told Politico it’s a six-figure ad buy for the 10 swing districts across the nation, but wouldn’t provide a breakdown showing how much of that is for the ad against Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto.
“Make no mistake: Congressman Denham and fellow Republicans’ refusal to support clean legislation to keep the government open at the 11th hour was the act of politicians that that welcomed a shutdown,” AUFC President Brad Woodhouse, who formerly was the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, said in a news release.
“Denham joined with the extortionist Tea Party crowd in Congress who demanded a ransom they knew they would never get: killing the Affordable Care Act,” Woodhouse said. “With local stories pouring in each day of the very real ways the Tea Party shutdown is hurting the middle class, it’s time Denham and fellow Republicans in Congress come to grips with reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, that it was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that it’s working.”
“Voters in these districts aren’t going to buy these laughable attacks from an extremist group,” he said via email. “Republicans have passed bipartisan resolutions to keep the government open, but President Obama and Harry Reid won’t compromise one inch. It’s time to end the political games and stop putting families, seniors and our economy at risk.”
The House Republicans’ continuing resolutions were predicated upon defunding or delaying the nation’s new health insurance law; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to allow a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution, even though a bipartisan majority of the House now seems to support one.
UPDATE @ 1:37 P.M.: “We are not surprised that a liberal special interest group would decide to start negative campaigning so early and to exploit the situation in Washington. The ad is factually wrong,” said Dave Gilliard, Denham’s campaign consultant. “Rep. Denham did not vote to shut down the government. In fact, he voted numerous times to keep the government open; he requested his own pay be withheld during the shutdown; and he is working hard to find a compromise that will resolve the situation, protect taxpayers and get the government working again.”
The federal government’s shutdown, or at least whether House members should accept their pay while it lasts, has become an issue in the Democrat-on-Democrat battle for California’s 17th Congressional District.
Former Obama administration official Ro Khanna of Fremont informed the media Thursday that he’d sent a letter to Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, urging him to refuse his salary for the duration of the shutdown.
“There ought to be consequences for Congress’s inability to do its job. Members ought to be accountable to the taxpayers who pay their salaries,” Khanna wrote to Honda, noting California voters approved a 2010 ballot measure to deny state lawmakers their pay if they fail to pass a budget.
Refusing to accept a salary or pension contributions during the shutdown “would be a show of good faith to your constituents here in the 17th District who expect better from Congress and their own representative,” Khanna wrote.
Honda had issued a statement Wednesday saying “the next pay period for House members and staff is October 31st, and I will continue doing the work that the people of the 17th district sent me to Washington to do. Right now I am working with my colleagues in both parties to end this Tea Party-caused budget crisis.”
Asked Thursday whether Honda will accept that Oct. 31 paycheck in full or reject or forfeit some or all of it due to the shutdown, spokesman Anthony Kusich replied, “He’s taking his paycheck.”
UPDATE @ 6:25 P.M.: A commenter raises an interesting point: By saying Honda should forfeit his pay as a consequence of “Congress’ inability to do its job,” is Khanna blasting Honda for not compromising with Republicans who want to defund or delay Obamacare?
Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law declined to comment this evening. But I see from Khanna’s website that he believes “(e)veryone deserves access to healthcare. That is why I was a strong supporter of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That law already is expanding healthcare services to the vast majority of Americans. We need to keep moving forward, however, until care is universally available, with a higher assurance of quality and with more control on costs.”
So one can assume Khanna doesn’t disagree with Honda’s refusal to accede to GOP demands to gut or repeal the law. It’s also worth nothing that several local lawmakers who agreed to reject or donate their pay during the shutdown – including Swalwell, Garamendi, Boxer and Feinstein – are staunch Obamacare defenders, too.
Some Californians are among a growing list of House members who say they won’t take their paychecks while the government shutdown remains in effect.
Members of Congress will receive their monthly paychecks even during a shutdown such as this. But Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, announced Monday he had sent a letter to the House’s chief administrative officer requesting that he not be paid.
“I believe it is simply wrong and unfair for me to receive my salary while Americans working hard across the country as part of our federal workforce receive nothing until this appropriations crisis is resolved,” he wrote. “Therefore, I ask that until federal employees who must work during a federal government shutdown are paid, I not be given my paycheck.”
Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, said Tuesday he’ll give up his federal pay for the duration of the shutdown, too.
“Congress should lead by example and put people before politics,” Bera said in a news release. “If Congress can’t do its job and put the American people first, then they certainly shouldn’t get paid during a crisis that they are causing. We must stop the finger pointing, start acting like adults, and make Washington work for the people again.”
In response to the budget sequestration cuts made earlier this year, Bera already has been donating 8.2 percent of his check each month to a local organization impacted by the cuts.
And John Myers, political editor at Sacramento’s KXTV News 10, tweeted today that Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, told him he’ll be forfeiting his paycheck during the shutdown as well. As of this hour, I don’t see that John’s interview with Denham has been posted online.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, is one of eight House Republicans who have broken with their caucus and are calling for a clean continuing resolution to re-open the federal government, without making any changes to Obamacare.
Nunes – representing California’s 22nd Congressional District, including parts of Fresno and Tulare counties – made waves yesterday by describing his GOP peers “lemmings with suicide vests” for refusing to fund the government unless Obamacare is defunded or delayed, according to the Washington Post.
“They have to be more than just a lemming. Because jumping to your death is not enough,” he said.
“You have this group saying somehow if you’re not with them, you’re with Obamcare. If you’re not with their plan – exactly what they want to do, you’re with Obamacare. It’s getting a little old,” he said.
As of this hour, the Post reports eight House Republicans would vote to re-open the government pronto. They are Nunes; Scott Rigell, R-Va.; Pat Meehan, R-Pa.; Charlie Dent, R-Pa.; Peter King, R-N.Y.; Jon Runyan, R-N.J.; Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.; and Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.
A few Northern California House members were among those who took to the lectern moments ago during the latest floor debate on the impending federal government shutdown.
The House is debating the latest GOP plan: tying a one-year delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate to the continuing resolution that would keep the government funded and running past midnight tonight.
Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, called a shutdown “a huge mistake.” He said his party fought vehemently against the decision to go to war in Iraq, against welfare reform, and against lots of other things in recent decade, but with each, “we didn’t shut down the government after we lost that debate – instead, we tried to make it work.”
The shutdown, however, will hurt everyone from farmers trying to export food to mothers feeding their children with government aid, to students hungry for a school meal.
“It’s a mean, reckless, ill-conceived idea to shut down government,” Farr said.
“Here we go again, Mr. Speaker – it’s really no secret that the Tea Party Republicans came here not really as public servants, but to destroy and decimate our government … This is, really, their dream vote,” Lee said. “It is shameful and it is downright wrong.”
“Make no mistake, the unnecessary GOP shutdown will have serious consequences for millions,” she said, and after more than 40 fruitless votes to cripple or repeal Obamacare, “this Tea Party obsession… to kill the government and to deny healthcare to millions of Americans, this must end… This hostage-taking must end.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was equally fiery in denouncing Obamacare. “It was passed in the middle of the night, 2,300 pages that nobody had ever read, and it’s having all kinds of consequences for our constituents, the American people,” Boehner said.
“Something has to be done, so my Republican colleagues and I thought we should defund the law for a year,” he said, noting the Senate disagreed.
But if the Obama administration has issued waivers and decided to delay enforcement of the employer mandate, why should ordinary Americans be stuck with a bill they can’t afford*, he asked. “It’s about fairness for the American people. Why don’t we make sure that every American is treated just like we are?”
(Click here to read more about who’s footing what bills.)
Honda “has been an unwavering champion of women’s health in Congress,” PPAF President Cecile Richards said in Honda’s news release. “His support for Title X and teen pregnancy prevention programs as a member of the Appropriations Committee have helped strengthening family planning and women’s health care in Silicon Valley and across the country. We applaud the Congressman’s leadership and are proud to stand with him just as he has stood with millions of women, men, and young people.”
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte – serving communities in 40 counties in California and Northern Nevada – has eight health centers in Santa Clara County, including one (in Sunnyvale) within the 17th District.
“I understand the critical importance of the many community health services that organizations like Planned Parenthood provide,” Honda said. “I am proud to have the continued support of Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund and its members as we work together to expand preventative health services to everyone who needs them.”
“A woman’s right to choose is a fundamental constitutional right which should be protected not just as a matter of privacy, but also under the 14th Amendment of the United States,” Khanna wrote on the “Women’s Rights” section of his campaign website. “As a Board Member of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, I strongly believe that all women should have access to reproductive health care. We should stand up for choice, birth control, and sex education.”
In fact, the former Obama administration official from Fremont made a $10,000 donation from his campaign fund to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in October 2012.
Honda, however, has received PPAF’s endorsement in each of his House re-election campaigns.