Iowa Congressional voting and comments on the government shutdown

The 2014 fiscal year began at midnight. Congress is ringing in the occasion with the first partial federal government shutdown since the mid-1990s. The U.S. House and Senate have been unable to agree on a continuing spending resolution, because most House Republicans insist on defunding or delaying the 2010 health care reform law as a condition of funding most government operations.

Details on Iowa Congressional votes on budget resolutions are after the jump, along with comments from all the Iowans in Congress and many of the candidates for U.S. House or Senate.

Authorization for most federal agricultural programs also expired at midnight, and it’s not clear when Congress will be able to agree on a short-term extension or a new five-year farm bill. Toward the end of this post I’ve enclosed some comments on the failure to pass a farm bill.

Republican efforts to block “Obamacare” are nothing new. The U.S. House has voted more than 40 times since 2011 to repeal the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act or nullify some of its provisions.

Brinksmanship by members of both parties is also routine as the deadline approaches for passing a new continuing spending resolution.

What’s unprecedented about the current standoff is one political party trying to block funding for the federal government as a means to overturn or delay a previously enacted law. Many parts of “Obamacare” will go into effect regardless of Congressional action, because they do not require additional federal funding.

Polling shows Americans are divided on the 2010 health care reform law, but the latest nationwide survey by Quinnipiac suggests that a solid majority opposes a government shutdown, and that Democrats are already gaining on the generic Congressional ballot.

The government shutdowns of late 1995 and early 1996 cost the GOP politically, and many current House Republicans tacitly recognize that the same will be true again. According to Jamie Dupree, late last night “not one Republican ventured out into the Speaker’s Lobby off the House floor, where several dozen reporters waited.” House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t have a lot of good options from here.

Iowa’s four U.S. representatives have split along party lines on almost every recent vote related to funding the government. (The exceptions were the unanimous September 29 vote to guarantee that active-duty military would continue to receive their pay in the event of a shutdown, and the bipartisan vote the same day to ensure funding for the State Department and U.S. embassy security.) Republicans Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) have repeatedly voted for continuing spending resolutions with Obamacare-related strings. Democratic Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) have opposed all such resolutions and called for a “clean” funding bill.

On September 20 the House approved a bill funding the government through mid-December at current levels, but removing funds for Obamacare. Iowa’s representatives released the following statements:

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement today [September 20] after the US House approved a budget bill that could lead to a government shutdown at the end of the month:

“The bill approved by the House today is an irresponsible approach to budgeting that puts the United States on a path to a government shutdown. This could imperil critical functions like the processing of Social Security benefits and making sure Iowa National Guard troops are paid.

“The political games need to stop. Congress needs to work together, reach across the party divide, and focus on serious proposals that keep the government from shutting down.”

Loebsack’s statement of September 20:

Loebsack: House Must Work Towards Compromise, Not Shut Down

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted on a Continuing Resolution written to include the demands of the Tea Party. The bill that was voted on today has no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law. If a commonsense, bipartisan agreement is not reached by September 30, when the current agreement expires, the government will shut down.

“For the second time in as many days, the extreme Tea Party wing of the Republican Party has taken over and driven the House further away from reaching a commonsense agreement and getting the work of the American people done.  Let’s be clear, today’s vote does nothing more than push our government towards a shut down and default, threatening our economy and Iowans’ jobs and retirement investments. If that were to happen, Medicare patients would have their care disrupted, veterans would see their benefits interrupted, and our men and women in uniform would have their pay delayed.

“Now that the Tea Party has gotten this out of their system, let’s put the partisan bickering aside and get to work on the basics that the American people expect and avoid yet another self-inflicted wound to our economy. Instead of veering from one manufactured crisis to another, Washington must come together to re-focus its energy on job creation and the conditions necessary to promote it, while taking the difficult but necessary steps to substantially reduce the unsustainable deficit.  I will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to achieve these goals.”

In contrast, Steve King’s statement from September 20 took great pride in his vote:

King Votes to Defund Obamacare

Washington, DC – Congressman Steve King released the following statement after voting in favor of H. J. Res 59, the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which includes the text of the Full Faith and Credit Act as well as a provision that fully defunds Obamacare. The bill provides necessary appropriations for all government operations with the exception of those funds necessary to implement Obamacare. The House passed this bill by a vote of 230-189.

“The American people understand the hypocrisy and injustice of the individual mandate as well as the disastrous effect the law will have on our healthcare system,” said King. “Currently, 57% of Americans oppose Obamacare. With this vote today, the House took a strong stand against Obamacar by passing a bill that would fund the entire government except for the new entitlements and onerous mandates contained within Obamacare. I offered this very same amendment in February of 2011, and I am glad that it was finally adopted by the House today. The largest chunk of Obamacare is set to take effect on October 1, and so now is the time to make this stand.

The courts failed to correct the massive overstep made by the Obama Administration and the Democrat majority, so now it is up to Congress to prevent further damage. It is time to restore the doctor-patient relationship, create more opportunities for American workers, and remove the burden this law has created. It is now in the hands of Harry Reid and Senate Democrats to do what the American people are asking for – defunding Obamacare. The House has acted on a bill that will prevent a government shutdown and I will not stop this fight until all Americans are free from the bondage of this law.”

Tom Latham’s office released this statement on September 20:

LATHAM MOVES TO AVERT SHUTDOWN WHILE DEFUDING AND REPLACING OBAMACARE

INTRODUCING BILLS THAT PROTECT CORE SERVICES TO VULNERABLE POPULATIONS AND PROVIDE COMMON SENSE REPLACEMENT HEALTH CARE BILL

Washington, DC, Sep 20

WASHINGTON, DC – Iowa Congressman Tom Latham voted Friday on a measure that protects hardworking American taxpayers from a government shutdown and from full implementation of the President’s unpopular new health care law.

The measure Latham supported prevents a shutdown of the federal government on October 1st and blocks implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare, on the same October date.

“Iowans want two things right now – protection from the harmful impact of Obamacare and a federal government that stays open and continues to provide vital services to Americans,” said Latham.  “Today the House of Representatives passed, in bipartisan fashion, legislation that will accomplish both.”

Ever since the passage of the health care law in 2010, an ever-growing number of Americans are deciding that the law is not the common sense path our nation should be taking on much needed health care reforms citing the instability created by the law in our health care system, restricting patient choice and exploding costs that will hamper the economy.  One of the most striking examples of this trend was when the presidents of three of the nation’s largest labor unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, released a letter to Democratic leaders in congress warning that Obamacare would “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

Noting his belief in the need for health care reform that replaces the bad approach taken by Obamacare, Latham is introducing his own legislation which would control health care costs, expand access to quality health care for uninsured Americans and wouldn’t add a penny to the federal debt.

“My bill provides a solution made up of better ideas that offer better solutions that will produce the best results for everyone.  It is a serious, patient-centered approach that gives the American people a voice in this process and puts them in control of their own health care, not the government,” Congressman Latham said.

Congressman Latham, who opposed the health care law when it was first passed by Congress in 2010, has repeatedly stood on principle and fought to repeal the new health care law full of harmful provisions  while pushing for his legislation as a better solution.  His legislation retains two of the most universally popular provisions in the new health care law that guarantees affordable health care to those with pre-existing conditions and allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until the age of 26.

His bill also:

— Greatly reduces the cost of individual health policies by allowing a full deduction for health insurance premiums – whether or not a taxpayer itemizes deductions.

— It allows health insurance plans to be purchased across state lines.

— It establishes nationwide small business health plans, so small employers can pool together to negotiate for lower premiums for workers.

— It contains real medical liability reform, saving money by reining in unnecessary medical procedures.

— It enhances health savings accounts by allowing taxpayers to use HSA funds to pay the premiums for the health insurance plan that is paired with the account.

— It cracks down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud, saving billions.

Latham is also introducing legislation that protects seniors, veterans, military personnel and core public safety functions and obligations in the event that the federal government is forced into a shutdown because of Senate or Presidential inaction.

The legislation guarantees that the federal government would use available revenues that would continue to come into the treasury to provide payments to Social Security recipients, veterans, military personnel and requires that the government has the spending authority to meet Medicare, national security and public safety obligations if there were a shutdown.

“The statements of the past few days make it clear to Americans that the White House and Senate leaders are steering our nation towards a disastrous shutdown of the government which would create pain and uncertainty for millions.  My legislation ensures that the government meets its most important obligations to the American people and the most vulnerable.  It sets priorities and protects our men and women in uniform and the seniors who rely on Social Security and Medicare to make ends meet each week – so that they can live without the fear of going without because of disagreements in Washington.”  

Senator Tom Harkin pointed out in his September 20 statement that the House bill was going nowhere fast.

Harkin Statement on House Funding Measure

‘Tying ideology to necessary funding is irresponsible and not a serious attempt to avert a shutdown.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. House approval of a bill that would keep the federal government running after September 30th only if implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is halted.  The continuing resolution would fund the federal government at current sequester levels of $986.3 billion through December 15th, while defunding the ACA.  Harkin is the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

“While the Democratically-led U.S. Senate continues to work as it has throughout the year to pass meaningful, bipartisan legislation, the U.S. House remains focused on ideology,” said Harkin.  “Today, it went beyond partisanship by threatening to shut down the government if the Affordable Care Act is not gutted.  This kind of obsession would be laughable if the economic stakes were not so high for middle class families.  

“This measure has no chance of passing the U.S. Senate.  It is irresponsible and it is not a serious attempt to avert a government shutdown.”  

Since the ACA was enacted into law, the U.S. House has voted 42 times, including today’s vote, to either repeal or defund the law.  Despite this action, the new law is already credited with slowing the growth in health care costs:

Premiums for insurance offered on the marketplaces are coming in lower than expected;  

The law bans the worst abuses by insurance companies;

Starting Jan. 1, health plans will not be allowed to refuse coverage or charge more because of preexisting conditions;

More than 3 million young people can stay on their parents’ plan until age 26;

Individuals with private insurance and Medicare have guaranteed access to preventive services without cost-sharing;

The law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, championed by Harkin, has funded several successful initiatives, including the “Tips from Former Smokers” national ad campaign.

Among other bills, this year the Senate has passed the following bipartisan measures:

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 by a vote of 78 to 22;

The Marketplace Fairness Act by a vote of 69 to 27;

The Water Resources Development Act by a vote of 83 to 14;

The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 (the farm bill) by a vote of 66 to 27;

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (immigration reform) of 2013 by a vote of 68 to 32.

The Senate took up the continuing spending resolution last week, after a marathon fake filibuster by tea party hero Ted Cruz. All 100 senators voted on September 25 to proceed with considering the spending resolution. As expected, Democrats stripped out language related to defunding Obamacare. Nevertheless, most Senate Republicans voted for a September 27 cloture motion on the spending resolution. I was interested to see that Senator Chuck Grassley was one of the 19 Senate Republicans to vote “no” on cloture.

The final Senate vote on September 27 approved the amended continuing spending resolution along party lines, with Iowa’s Tom Harkin voting yes and Grassley voting no. Grassley explained his votes as follows:

Grassley on Votes Against Procedural Motions, Continuing Resolution on Government Funding

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on his votes against procedural motions and the continuing resolution to fund the government.

“My votes today were based on opposition to Obamacare.  I’ve been committed to using every tool to stop it because of what’s at stake for America’s economy, jobs and health care needs. Already, the law has had a negative impact on hiring, with more than 70 percent of people hired during the last year getting only part-time jobs because of Obamacare.  Employers are dropping work hours and not hiring because of the costs put on them by the law.  Workers are being forced into the exchanges.  This is the opposite of what the President promised, that if you like the health care coverage you have, you can keep it.  Even supporters of the Obama health care law are now opponents as reality sets in.  It’s reasonable to conclude that we should stop moving forward on Obamacare.  Beyond that, the continuing resolution spends about $19 billion more than allowed under the Budget Control Act passed in August 2011, and government spending needs to be reduced to comply with that law.  And with this debate, the Senate Majority Leader continued to use all of his tools, including not allowing Republican amendments, to prevent a fair process.”

Harkin’s office released this statement:

September 27, 2013

Harkin Statement on Senate Funding Measure

‘Responsible budgeting will keep our government running and keep our economy moving forward.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate approval of a bill that would keep the federal government running after September 30th.   The Senate continuing resolution would fund the federal government at current levels of $986.3 billion through November 15th and strikes the language approved by the U.S. House calling for the defunding of the Affordable Care Act.  Harkin is the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

“The continuing resolution approved by the Senate today responsibly averts a government shutdown and puts Congress on a path to address our spending needs.  Our economy cannot sustain another manufactured crisis, which is why I hope the U.S. House will recognize the urgency of this situation, put ideology aside, and act swiftly to take up and pass this measure,” said Harkin.

“Iowans and all Americans need the certainty that comes from responsible budgeting in Washington.  Shutting down the government would deny Iowa’s children, seniors, veterans, and small businesses many of the critical services they rely on to meet their daily needs.  Now the House needs to stop holding middle class families hostage to their demands to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act and act responsibly to keep our economy moving in the right direction.”

Once it became obvious that the U.S. Senate would not pass, nor would President Barack Obama sign, a continuing spending resolution that blocks the health care reform bill, the obvious play by Republicans was to pass a clean continuing spending resolution.

As Grassley pointed out during a September 21 interview, Republicans could even claim a victory of sorts.

Grassley predicts House Republicans will back down.

“They’ll accept it because they won’t want to shut down the government and it’s going to go to the president and the president’s going to sign it. Now, that sounds like a total victory for the president and ObamaCare. It is from that standpoint, but it’s a total victory for Republicans, too, and fiscal conservatives because the level of funding is the status quo level,” Grassley says. “…We’ve had level funding for two years and this maintains that level funding. That’s $98 billion less than what the Democrats want to spend.”

It would have been wise for Republicans to emphasize their victory on the sequester and give up trying to block Obamacare. But some people don’t know when to accept reality. On September 28, House Republicans tried again to tie government spending to defunding portions of the health care reform. Debate went on past midnight before House Republicans approved two amendments. Mike Lillis reported for The Hill,

The House added language delaying implementation of the healthcare law by a year in a 231-192 vote, with Democratic Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.)  joining Republicans. Two Republicans voted against the delay, Reps. Chris Gibson (N.Y.) and Richard Hanna (N.Y.).

The House also voted to eliminate a tax on medical devices in a 248-174 vote, with 17 Democrats joining the GOP. The tax is intended to pay for some of the law’s costs. Gibson switched his vote from no to yes toward the end of the vote.

Under the rule adopted earlier in the day, the underlying spending bill was deemed passed with the approval of the two amendments.

Iowa’s representatives split on party lines on the vote to eliminate the tax on medical devices as well as on the effort to delay implementing all aspects of the law for one year.

Braley’s statement of September 28:

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement today after the US House voted to set the US government on the path to a shutdown on Tuesday:

“The government shutdown bill passed by the House tonight is reckless and irresponsible, and is a threat to job creation and our economic recovery. It puts the United States on the verge of a government shutdown, jeopardizing critical functions like the processing of Social Security and veterans benefits.

“Political brinksmanship and hostage-taking is no way to run a government. Over the next 48 hours, I’ll be doing everything I can to reach across the party divide and pass a responsible bill that keeps the government open and functioning. Congress must find a solution that doesn’t hurt our economy or middle class families.

Loebsack struck a similar tone:

Loebsack: Reckless House GOP Funding Proposal Moves Away from Compromise and Closer to Shutdown

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement this evening after the House of Representatives voted on a second Continuing Resolution written to include the demands of the Tea Party. Senate leaders have already declared this bill dead on arrival and the President has said he would veto the legislation, giving it no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law. If a commonsense, bipartisan agreement is not reached by September 30, when the current agreement expires, the government will shut down.

“Until House Republicans agree to put an end to the brinksmanship that is all too common here in Washington it does not appear that they have any real interest in reaching a commonsense agreement to keep the government running. The irresponsible and reckless actions of House leaders means some workers at Rock Island Arsenal would be furloughed, small business owners would stop receiving federal loans to hire and expand their businesses, home loans for middle class families would be delayed, veterans could see benefits delayed, lifesaving medical research pushed back, and 1.4 million men and women in uniform would have their pay delayed. Iowans cannot afford to pay the price of Republicans’ games.

“Today’s vote does nothing more than push our government towards a shut down and puts politics before the basic work Iowans expect Congress to get done. Instead of trying to delay protections for those who have pre-existing conditions, delaying protections for women to ensure they aren’t charged more for their health care and delaying tax credits for middle class Iowans to buy health care, Washington must re-focus its energy on job creation and fixing the economy. While I had hoped House Republicans would take the simple steps necessary to avoid a shut down and move on from these political stunts, I remain willing to work with the other side of the aisle to move our nation forward.”

On September 29, Loebsack asked House and Senate leaders to work together:

Loebsack: At Eleventh Hour, There is No More Time for Political Posturing

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today called on House and Senate leaders to immediately come back into session to find a way forward to avoid a government shutdown. The House and Senate are currently scheduled to come back into session only hours before the shutdown deadline.

“At a time when Washington should be working on a bipartisan basis to create jobs and boost the economy, Congress is dark as the clock ticks down to an unnecessary and reckless shutdown,” Loebsack wrote to Congressional leaders. “I call on you to bring the House and Senate into session immediately and get to work on a simple, bipartisan Continuing Resolution that can be signed into law. I continue to stand ready to work on a bipartisan basis to avert this manufactured crisis and get to work on the priorities of the American people.”

The full text of the letter follows.

September 29, 2013

The Honorable Harry Reid                                            The Honorable John Boehner

Majority Leader                                                           Speaker of the House

US Senate                                                                    US House of Representatives

S-221, The Capitol                                                       H-232, The Capitol

Washington, DC 20510                                                Washington, DC 20515

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner:

With less than 48 hours until the government shuts down without bipartisan action by the House of Representatives, United States Senate, and the Administration, both Chambers should be in session and working today and through the Monday night deadline.  The brinksmanship, political posturing, and partisan ideology that have gotten us to this point cannot continue.  There is no excuse for ongoing political games or inaction – Congress and the Administration must come together and take the simple steps necessary to keep the government running.  Ongoing partisan posturing by those hoping to score political points on the back of our economy is not just inexcusable, it’s reckless and it must end.

As our country faces down yet another manufactured crisis, both sides of the aisle must put politics aside and come together to take action.  Our economy and Iowa families cannot afford more brinksmanship and the effects of a government shutdown would have ripple effects across the economy and the brunt of the impact would be felt by middle-class families such as those at Rock Island Arsenal who could go without pay, our troops who would report for duty to protect our country but see their pay delayed, and small businesses that would be unable to expand without the loans they need to create jobs.

At a time when Washington should be working on a bipartisan basis to create jobs and boost the economy, Congress is dark as the clock ticks down to an unnecessary and reckless shutdown and federal agencies are spending taxpayer dollars preparing for a government shutdown instead of carrying out the work of the American people.  This situation is inexcusable.

I call on you to bring the House and Senate into session immediately and get to work on a simple, bipartisan Continuing Resolution that can be signed into law.  We have reached the eleventh hour and there is no time for more political posturing or for both Chambers of Congress to be waiting at home for the other side to blink.

I continue to stand ready to work on a bipartisan basis to avert this manufactured crisis and get to work on the priorities of the American people.

Sincerely,

Dave Loebsack

Iowa’s Second District

Senator Harkin denounced what he called “blackmail” by the House GOP.

September 29, 2013

Harkin Statement on Amended House Funding Measure

‘Attempting to nullify laws by blackmail only harms the economy.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. House approval today of a continuing resolution that amends a Senate-approved measure by funding the federal government at current levels of $986.3 billion through December 15th.  The House measure also adds language that delays implementation of the Affordable Care Act and repeals a medical device tax.  Harkin is the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

“House Republicans are attempting to nullify a law upheld by the Supreme Court, not by overturning the law, but by blackmail – threatening to shut down the government.  That would only harm our fragile economy.  This measure has no chance of passing the Senate.  The fact that the Senate has already rejected a similar proposal demonstrates that House Republicans would rather play games than govern.  Iowans and all Americans deserve better.”

In contrast, both King and Latham emphasized that they had voted to keep the government open. Latham’s office sent out this press release on September 28:

LATHAM WILL VOTE TO KEEP GOVERNMENT OPEN, PROTECT OUR TROOPS & STOP OBAMACARE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MOVE WILL AVERT SHUTDOWN UNLESS SENATE & PRESIDENT CHOOSE ALTERNATIVE PATH

Washington, DC, Sep 28 | 4 comments f t # e

Washington, DC – The United States House of Representatives will consider important measures late Saturday evening that will keep government open, delay Obamacare and permanently repeal Obamacare’s medical device tax. The House will also vote on a measure that ensures that America’s troops get paid should the U.S. Senate and White House continue down the troubling path towards a government shutdown on October 1st.

“The American people want a government that stays open and they want protection from the harmful impacts of Obamacare,” said Iowa Congressman Tom Latham.  “I will vote this evening on a measure that will ensure that our government does not shut down on Tuesday and it gives the American people the same one year time-out from Obamacare that big business was granted by President Obama.  I will also support a measure that permanently repeals the harmful and universally criticized Obamacare medical device tax that will cause 43,000 layoffs of American workers – sending those jobs overseas.”

Latham also announced that he would be supporting a measure that ensures that America’s troops get paid even if a shutdown takes place.

“Congress has an obligation to ensure that the last thing America’s service members should worry about is getting their paycheck.  The Republican measure I will support with my vote this evening will protect the men and women who protect our freedoms from having to worry about taking care of their families and paying their bills.”

“Tonight’s action by the House is a continuation of the legislative process that should be expected by the American people in an effort to find common ground and provide better solutions.  It is now the responsibility of the U.S. Senate to move this process towards the President’s desk in an effort to protect the American people and our troops from a disastrous shutdown on October 1st.”

Here’s the September 29 press release from King:

King Votes to Keep the Government Open; Delay Obamacare

Washington, DC – Congressman Steve King released the following statement after voting in favor of the House amendments to H.J. Res 59, the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which included a repeal of the medical device tax as well as a one year delay in Obamacare. The bill provides necessary appropriations for all government operations with the exception of those funds necessary to implement Obamacare. The House passed this amendment by a vote of 231 – 192.

“Today, I voted for the second time in two weeks to fully fund the federal government,” said King. “This vote in no way causes a government shutdown; in fact, if this continuing resolution were enacted, a government shutdown would be out of the question. Now, the House has acted twice to insist that the President recognize the flaws in Obamacare, and act to prevent the havoc it will wreak on our economy. President Obama and Senate Democrats now have a choice: act responsibly to prevent a government shutdown and delay the implementation of Obamacare for one year, or shut the government down in an effort to save their disastrous healthcare law.”

Yesterday, King sounded a lot less reluctant to shut down the government than Latham.

Republican Congressman Steve King says the president’s Affordable Care Act will be a far greater damper on the U.S. economy than any government shut-down.

“We would recover from that, that inconvenience, from the tension of it all, from the uncertainty. We will recover from that, but we will never recover from the implementation of ObamaCare,” King says. “This is an important principle and every Republican in the House and Senate has rejected ObamaCare and now we’re getting Democrats to cross the line, however small their numbers might be.” […]

“We’re very, very close to a government shut-down,” King says. “I didn’t think so yesterday. I thought something would break, but the closer we get now (to October 1) the greater the odds are.”

Iowa’s other Republican congressman, Tom Latham of Clive, says Americans “want a government that stays open and they want protection from the harmful impacts of Obamacare.”

On the afternoon of September 30, the U.S. Senate voted along party lines to table the latest spending resolution approved by the House. What Pete Kasperowicz described as legislative “ping-pong” continued into the evening. House Republicans passed yet another spending resolution with strings attached. Senate Democrats quickly tabled that resolution too in a party-line vote.

Loebsack released this statement on the evening of September 30.

Loebsack: Congress Needs Commonsense Agreement, Not More Political Games

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement this evening after the House of Representatives voted on a third Continuing Resolution written to include the demands of the Tea Party. For the third time, Senate leaders have declared this bill dead on arrival and the President has said he would veto the legislation, giving it no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law. If a commonsense, bipartisan agreement is not reached by midnight tonight, when the current agreement expires, the government will shutdown.

“With only hours left until the government is needlessly shutdown, there is a simple way forward to avoid this reckless brinksmanship. Congressional Republicans must move on from these political stunts that have continually prevented any progress in finding a commonsense agreement to keep the government open. While I believe that Members of Congress should not receive any special treatment, governing by crisis is not a way to deal with it. The irresponsible and reckless actions of House leaders means some workers at Rock Island Arsenal would be furloughed, small business owners would stop receiving federal loans to hire and expand their businesses, home loans for middle class families would be delayed, veterans could see benefits delayed, and lifesaving medical research could be pushed back. I hold out hope that once again, a last minute deal is reached to avert a shutdown. I stand ready to support commonsense legislation to ensure the government remains open.”

This morning Braley’s office released this statement.

“A government shutdown is likely to create a number of problems for Iowans.

“For example, more than 1,000 Iowa National Guard employees will likely be furloughed. Processing of Social Security and veterans benefit applications could be delayed. Enrollment in farm programs administered by the Agriculture Department will likely be halted.

“I’ve instructed my staff to do everything within our ability to help Iowans negatively affected by a shutdown, even while my office is short-staffed.

“If you’re experiencing a problem that needs urgent attention but are unable to get the help you need because of the shutdown, I urge you to contact me using the following website: www.braley.house.gov/shutdown    

“Additionally, you may contact my Cedar Rapids office by phone at (319) 364-2288 or my Capitol office at (202) 225-2911.”

# # #

Loebsack had this to say shortly after midnight:

Loebsack: The American People Deserve Swift Action to End Political Games

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement after Speaker Boehner moved to send legislation to fund the government to a conference committee. Due to repeated demands by the Tea Party, House Republicans were not willing to put a clean continuing resolution to avoid this manufactured crisis for a vote.

“It is unconscionable that we have come to this point. Because of the reckless actions by the Tea Party, the latest move by Speaker Boehner serves one purpose: to try and shift blame away from Republicans and the brinksmanship they have caused. This is one more manufactured crisis that Iowans and our economy cannot afford. Washington must re-focus its energy on job creation and fixing the economy. I will work to bridge the differences and put an end to these irresponsible practices and get the basic work done that the American people expect of Congress.”

Speaking to Iowa reporters by conference call this morning, Grassley predicted that the shutdown will be resolved soon.

Grassley says, “For one who predicted in last week’s interview with you folks that we wouldn’t have a shutdown, obviously I’m exasperated that we had one.”

[…]Given the impasse, Grassley was asked how long the shutdown may last.

“I don’t have any idea but I think that you soon wake up to the fact that it doesn’t accomplish much and it gets over pretty soon,” Grassley says. “If it’s going to be hours or days, I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s going to be weeks like 18 years ago.”

Harkin is calling on House leaders to put the Senate-passed continuing resolution up for a vote in the lower chamber.

UPDATE: On the morning of October 1, the Senate again voted on party lines to table the latest House resolution on funding the government. House Speaker John Boehner is blaming the shutdown on Senate Democrats, but Democrats wanted to start conference committee negotiations on a budget resolution way back in April.

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE COMMENTS ON THE SHUTDOWN AND FUNDING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker posted this Facebook status update on September 30.

A temporary government slowdown would be a small price to pay to defund Obamacare. That is why I was one of the first Iowa Senate candidates to sign the pledge to defund Obamacare.

Now is the time to fight for what is right.

LIKE and COMMENT if you agree with me!

Republican Senate candidate Sam Clovis has posted primarily fundraising appeals over the past couple of days. But last week he indicated his support for Senator Ted Cruz’s efforts to defund Obamacare.

I haven’t seen a specific comment on the government shutdown from Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, but on September 26 she posted that Republicans “need to stand firm” for repealing Obamacare. UPDATE: Apparently both Clovis and Ernst signed Cruz’s pledge to defund Obamacare.

I haven’t seen anything on GOP Senate candidate David Young’s website or twitter feed indicating whether he would support a clean spending resolution, or insist on defunding Obamacare as a condition for funding the federal government.

Ditto for dark horse Republican Senate candidate Scott Schaben.

Five Democrats are running for the open seat Bruce Braley is vacating in IA-01. Iowa House Democrat Pat Murphy released this statement today:

Representative Pat Murphy, candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District said in response to the government shutdown:

“Today’s reckless move by Congressional Republicans to put partisan politics ahead of the American people and shutdown the government is inexcusable.  Their actions have put vital services Iowan’s rely on in jeopardy and the economic recovery of this nation in question.

Their actions today hurt services to seniors and students, halt loans for homebuyers and small businesses, and lay off thousands of Iowans.   As House Republican’s play political games to beat Democrats and the President the middle-class loses.”

Pat Murphy’s 24-year record in the Iowa House and experience on the Appropriation Committee he has fought responsible solutions for all Iowans and will continue to fight for the middle-class in Congress.

Dave O’Brien made his position clear in this press release of September 19:

O’Brien calls on Pate, Rathje, Rogers, and Blum to denounce extreme government shutdown plan

Cedar Rapids, IA – Following House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement Wednesday embracing a shutdown of the federal government unless the Affordable Care Act was defunded, Democratic First Congressional District candidate Dave O’Brien called on Republican congressional hopefuls Paul Pate, Steve Rathje, Walt Rogers and Rod Blum to denounce the plan.

“Iowans across the First District are tired of the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and they’re sick of Republicans putting our economic recovery on the line with their partisan agenda,” said Dave O’Brien. “Voters deserve to know where the Republican candidates seeking this seat stand on the issue. Are they going to embrace this divisive agenda and support shutting down the government if they don’t get their way? Or, will they do the right thing and stand with the people of the district in denouncing this extreme plan?”

O’Brien, who served in the Department of Labor during the Clinton administration, added, “I saw first-hand what happened last time Republicans forced a government shutdown. It caused an enormous backlog at the Department of Labor and other agencies in Washington, that that took months to overcome.  The shutdown jeopardized the Labor Department’s ability to enforce worker protection rules. The only thing the Republicans accomplished with their last shut down was to squander taxpayer money.  We must not go down that path again.”

UPDATE: O’Brien released this statement on the morning of October 1:

O’Brien: Congress must act on government shutdown

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Dave O’Brien, candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 1st District, released the following statement this morning calling on Congress to act immediately to reopen the federal government and asking 1st District Republican candidates to take a stand against the gridlock their party is causing in Washington:

“Iowans deserve a functioning federal government and representatives from both parties who are willing to work together, find common ground, and keep our nation moving forward. Instead, Republicans in Congress have jeopardized our economic recovery and the well being of Americans by forcing a government shutdown in favor of an extremely partisan and self-serving agenda.

“It’s clear that Congress must act immediately to reopen the government. It’s also clear that Washington won’t act on its own, which is why Republicans – including those seeking the nomination in the 1st District – must immediately speak out against the damage their fellow Republicans are doing in Washington. This is about common sense and doing the right thing.”

I haven’t seen any specific comments on the spending resolutions or the government shutdown from the other three Democrats running in IA-01 (Monica Vernon, Swati Dandekar, and Anesa Kajtazovic). State Senator Steve Sodders commented on September 30, “This is why we need young new fresh people in US congress,” adding that “in my area Anesa Kajtazovic would be good start.”

UPDATE: Kajtazovic commented on Facebook on October 1,

Extreme Tea Party Republicans hypocrisy perhaps at all time high. If they can’t get the job done, why should they be getting paid? In 2011, Iowa had the 3rd longest legislative session in history and we didn’t get paid for working past the deadline. It was also due to extremist GOP views and their obsession with politicizing women’s reproductive healthcare choices including in cases such as rape, incest, or life and health of the mother. President Obama was re-elected, “Obamacare” went before the Supreme Court and is now the law of the land. Time to get to work on issues affecting the middle class families. How about investing in our infrastructure, the skyrocketing student loan debt? etc..

As for the Republicans running in IA-01, Steve Rathje’s campaign released this statement on September 30:

1st Congressional District, Cedar Rapids-Today, Steve Rathje, Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives seat representing the 1st District of Iowa, released a statement regarding the October 1 implementation of ObamaCare and the potential Federal Government “shutdown”:

The Federal Government is poised to employ a financial stranglehold on roughly 20% of our nation’s economy, while at the same time introducing new regulations and bureaucracy through the execution of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare.

I’ve talked to dozens of doctors in the 1st Congressional District, and they are concerned for their patients, and for their practices, as well. The uneven implementation of the rules and regulations, and the negative financial impacts on businesses and their employees, are just the beginning of the problems with this legislation.

There are those, including former President Bill Clinton, who say that this is the law of the land and it needs to be understood and obeyed. What makes this different, though, is that the Executive Branch has been busy picking winners and losers through the uneven execution of the law as it was passed by a Democratically controlled Congress and signed by a Democratic President. Why are large businesses immune from this law until next year, while the middle class isn’t? To me, the answer is clear; this is purely political. The President and Progressive leaders want nothing more than to both negate the implementation of ObamaCare on the largest scale until after the 2014 election cycle, and force this country into a shutdown they will blame on Constitutionally-based Conservatives.

We have an obligation to hold our elected officials accountable. This is an American tradition with roots in the foundation of our country. Between ObamaCare and the potential for a government shutdown, one has to wonder what our elected officials are busy doing…or not doing.

I’m running for the U.S. House of Representatives because I know Iowans are tired of business as usual from politicians; people who profess to have all the answers, yet many of who have never created a job. My campaign offers solutions, and I’m not afraid of writing them out, along with all the details behind my ideas. It’s available on my website and I’ve handed hundreds of them out across the 1st Congressional District. People are drawn to solutions instead of rhetoric, and I’m proud of the difference my campaign has made in the 20 counties I am running to represent in Congress.

Rathje’s experience in the 1st Congressional District goes back to the 2008 U.S. Senate race, where his campaign tallied the following impressive results in a three-way primary in the 20-county area against a politician and a businessman:

14 first place finishes, 4 second place finishes, and 2 third place finishes.

Allamakee 214 votes or 42% (1)

Benton 346 votes or 54% (1)

Blackhawk 786 votes or 40% (1)

Bremer 114 votes or 31% (2)

Buchanan 127 votes or 44% (1)

Clayton 289 votes or 69% (1)

Delaware 399 votes or 59% (1)

Dubuque 212 votes or 31% (2)

Fayette 311 votes or 40% (1)

Howard 75 votes or 29% (2)

Iowa 108 votes or 42% (1)

Jackson 62 votes or 43% (1)

Jones 257 votes or 44% (1)

Linn 2,973 or 54% (1)

Marshall 232 or 37% (1)

Mitchell 118 votes or 27% (3)

Poweshiek 69 votes or 22% (2)

Tama 199 votes or 42% (1)

Winneshiek 241 votes or 37% (1)

Worth 29 votes or 17% (3)

Total Votes Cast 15,236

Total Votes for Steve Rathje 7,161

% of Rathje Total 47%

http://www.steverathje.com/eco…

A few days ago Rod Blum indicated his support for Republicans who insisted on defunding Obamacare.

I have not seen any comments about the government shutdown from State Representative Walt Rogers, who is exploring a GOP campaign in IA-01.

Dave Loebsack has only one declared Republican challenger in IA-02. I haven’t seen any comment on the current standoff on State Representative Mark Lofgren’s campaign website or twitter feed or Facebook page.

Iowa Department of Public Health director Mariannette Miller-Meeks (whom I expect to run against Loebsack for a third time) hasn’t released any statement on the government shutdown, but she has been tweeting many comments that generally support the Republican position against the health care reform law. On the other hand, Miller-Meeks favorably linked to a commentary on “5 ways the ‘defund ObamaCare’ crusade hurts Republicans.”

Two Democrats are running against Latham in IA-03. Staci Appel released this statement today.

Statement from 3rd Congressional district candidate Staci Appel (D-Ackworth) on the impact of a government shutdown:

“”Every day I hear from Iowans who have had enough of the bickering and political grandstanding. Congress needs to work together, use a little common sense and get the job done,” said Appel. “It is shameful that Iowa’s middle class families will be bearing the brunt of the burden from the dysfunction and misplaced priorities of Congress’ inability to exercise its most basic function, passing a budget.”

Background:

Des Moines Register: “…about 1,000 full-time Iowa National Guard employees are still at risk of being furloughed. Moreover, the Guard may also have to cancel training and other duties, which could affect at least 7,500 soldiers and airmen.” [Des Moines Register, 9/29/13]

###

Latham’s other Democratic challenger, Gabriel De La Cerda, has posted several items on his twitter and Facebook feed in recent days blasting Congressional Republicans for shutting down the government and trying to delay health care reform.

King’s Democratic opponent Jim Mowrer released this statement on September 30:

“Tonight, Congressman Steve King and his Tea Party Republican Colleagues are holding the United State House of Representatives hostage.  These political tactics will lead to our government being shutdown and average American families here in Iowa and around the nation will feel unnecessary hardship.  This shutdown is truly unacceptable and doesn’t represent the government that our founding fathers left for us, one that works together for the good of the people. Congressman King has forgotten what that type of government looks like,” said Iraq War Veteran, fmr. senior Pentagon official and 4th district congressional candidate Jim Mowrer. “In Iraq when a fellow soldier was in danger we put aside our differences and did everything we could to prevent that soldier from suffering.  Tonight, middle class American families and seniors are about to suffer and unfortunately Congressman King is unwilling to put aside his differences to get the job done for the people of Iowa and this nation,” Mowrer added.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Scott Brennan released this statement on the evening of September 30:

“Over the past few weeks, the Republican Party has been officially taken over by a reckless minority, and starting Tuesday, Iowans will suffer and our economic recovery will take a major step back.  By refusing to compromise and forcing the government to shut down, Republicans have created a self-inflicted wound that will harm our economy and hurt working Iowans.  Republicans in Congress have taken the unreasonable position that they either get their way or wreak havoc on our economy.  And still, Terry Branstad has refused to address his party’s damage to our state and what his plans are to protect Iowans.  Republicans in Congress need to start acting responsibly and not let Iowa’s middle class suffer because of their stubbornness.”

COMMENTS ON THE LACK OF A FARM BILL

The expiration of federal farm programs will affect thousands of Iowans quickly. Braley’s office released this statement on September 24 (emphasis in original):

Braley Again Calls on Speaker Boehner to Bring Bipartisan Farm Bill to the House Floor

With time running short before September 30th expiration, Braley renews call for Farm Bill compromise

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today called on House Speaker John Boehner to appoint conferees and bring a bipartisan Farm Bill to the House floor for a vote.

“The Farm Bill expires in just six days. A comprehensive Farm Bill addresses the needs of all Americans. It’s time to move past the political games and get serious about passing a long-term, bipartisan Farm Bill, which is why I’m again calling on Speaker Boehner to immediately bring a bipartisan Farm Bill to the House floor for a vote.

“Passing a long-term Farm Bill is a necessity for rural America. Farmers and agricultural producers have waited too long for the certainty that a five-year Farm Bill provides. Without a Farm Bill to provide predictability, it’s harder for farmers to invest in the future – to create jobs and grow the economy.”

If Congress fails to act before September 30, the Farm Bill will expire and farm programs will revert to those in the 1949 version of the law.

Last week, the House passed another partisan version of the Farm Bill that only addressed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). House leadership has said once a bill addressing SNAP was passed they would appoint House members to the conference committee to work with Senate members in order to reach an agreement on a bipartisan Farm Bill.

Braley has repeatedly urged Speaker Boehner to put the bipartisan Senate bill on the House Floor. The Senate has passed a comprehensive, bipartisan Farm Bill earlier this summer. In July, Braley called on the Speaker to postpone August recess until the House passed a long-term, bipartisan Farm Bill.

Full text of Braley’s letter follows; a copy can be downloaded at the following link: http://1.usa.gov/15pHDVF

Loebsack released this statement on September 30:


Loebsack: Lack of Action on Farm Bill is Shameful

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today as the current farm bill expires at midnight. The Senate passed a bipartisan farm bill earlier this year, while at the same time the House was unable to pass its own comprehensive version.  This led to House leaders playing politics with Iowa farmers, rural communities and those who rely on food stamps by passing two separate pieces, the agriculture portion of the farm bill along with the nutrition portion. Congressman Loebsack introduced the Senate bill in the House after Republican leaders failed to pass a comprehensive farm bill. As of today, the House has not appointed people to work out the differences with the Senate. At midnight tonight when the law expires, it will revert back to the permanent law from 1938 and 1949.

“As the clock ticks down towards midnight when the current farm bill is set to expire, it is shameful that we are still nowhere near passing long-term, commonsense legislation that our farmers and rural economy need. House Leaders have refused to show any leadership on this issue and have left Iowa farmers, our rural communities, and those who rely on nutrition assistance to shoulder the burden. There is simply no excuse why we should not already have a farm bill that’s been signed into law. I have been fighting to get a bipartisan farm bill signed into law and will continue to do so. We must pass a long-term, comprehensive farm bill without further delay.”

Radio Iowa interviewed Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Craig Hill about this issue on September 30.

  • well done

    This is a great summary of the statements and actions taken by each elected member of Congress leading up to the government shut down.  Well done.

    While I know I shouldn’t be shocked, I’m simply astonished that Grassley made the statement that employers aren’t hiring due to health care reform. Ridiculous!  I can believe they aren’t hiring, but it’s due to the economy which Grassley refuses to focus on, not health care reform.

    • during the coming year

      Republicans will blame every layoff or business closing on Obamacare. Bank on that being a theme of hundreds of millions of dollars in 2014 campaign ads.

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