SEATTLE — On the first full day of the government shutdown, the parties in Washington, D.C., don’t seem any closer to a solution to the standoff.
Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., and Dave Reichert, R-Wash., have been in the thick of things in Congress for the past several days. Each has voted with their respective political parties throughout this ordeal, and at this point neither seems willing to budge.
I spoke with them earlier Tuesday by satellite from the nation’s capital.
C.R.: The president said this morning that it’s the Republicans holding the economy hostage to a law they don’t like — Obamacare, of course. Your response?
Reichert: “There is an opportunity, and this has been an advantage that both parties have taken part in over the course of our history, in (the) continuing resolution and the debt ceiling votes to connect some legislation to those issues either to help us reduce the $17 trillion debt, our debts, or to at least get some language into the law that helps our economy, creates jobs, and gets this economy moving forward.”
C.R.: Republicans have talked about wanting another year for that individual (health insurance) mandate to kick in. Why not allow it? After all, you’ve allowed businesses an extra year to follow the rules of Obamacare?
DelBene: “Policy-making through brinksmanship is a terrible idea. We are in a situation right now, we are really damaging our economy, and, frankly, we damaged our economy days before this happened because of the concern over what would happen in the case of a shutdown. So, we should continue to move forward and look at health care as we do other pieces of legislation, see what’s working, what’s not working and continue to improve the legislation, but we should also make sure the government’s funded and, unfortunately, because there was no dialogue on a budget earlier, we’re stuck in this situation today.”
C.R.: So you would absolutely not support any kind of Obamacare amendments to a budget solution to this?
DelBene: “I think if you put a clean resolution on the table where you said, let’s fund the government for a period of time going forward while we are committed to working on the longer-term budget, we would have support for that, but we haven’t been allowed to even vote on that scenario.”
Reichert: “This is an opportunity to bring both parties together to the bargaining table. If you pass a clean [Continuing Resolution] that opportunity goes away. What’s the incentive for the Democrats to come to the table and have a negotiation? Right now it’s just arrogance on their part, in my opinion, to say we’re not negotiating. And again, I know many people have heard this, but when the president says I’ll negotiate with Russia, Iran, Syria, but I’m not going to negotiate with my fellow Americans who happen to be of a different party, I think that’s wrong.”