By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON – U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says if the latest congressional impasse isn’t a wake-up call for American voters, nothing is.
“I hope people have their eyes wide open … that they see the dysfunction here is real,” the Oshkosh Republican told Wisconsin Reporter on Tuesday morning in the hours after the partial federal government shutdown.
“Is this entity what we want to see continue growing, taking over our health care?” Johnson said of the federal government. “That’s why we need to see power devolve back to the states and local governments.”
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats placed the blame for the partial shutdown squarely on the shoulders of “ideological” crusading conservatives fighting against implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care overhaul that said conservatives have dubbed Obamacare.
Using the same descriptors his party has employed in calling out conservatives in recent days, the president in a Rose Garden address vilified Republicans, charging that they are holding the economy “hostage.”
Democrats and Republicans could not come to terms on a funding bill in advance of the new federal fiscal year, beginning Tuesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Obama sent a letter to federal employees, many of whom are at presently out of work, praising them for their service and apologizing for a “political climate that, too often in recent years, has treated you like a punching bag.” The letter didn’t mention his role in the knot of partisanship strangling federal governance.
“You have endured three years of a federal pay freeze, harmful sequester cuts, and now a shutdown of our government,” Obama wrote. “And yet, you persevere, continuing to serve the American people with passion, professionalism and skill.” It’s just not fair, the president said.
Johnson said he was surprised by the shutdown, calling the impasse pushing the latest federal crisis beyond the brink a “head scratcher.”
He sounded incredulous that the Democratic majority in the Senate quickly killed three House proposals, as well as a move to conference, to “sit down and talk about the issues in good faith.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., before the clock struck midnight Monday said Republicans were simply spinning their wheels if they thought Democrats would vote for any measure that would defund or delay Obamacare. On Tuesday he reiterated he wanted a “clean” continuing resolution bill that will fund the government for a several weeks while the two sides work out their deep differences.
Johnson said he supported a short-term funding bill, in the one-week range, to keep the government going, no strings attached, but Reid would have none of it.
“I’m just scratching my head. I’m surprised we’re shut down,” the senator said. “Maybe there were a couple of members in their heart of hearts hoping for it, but I certainly wasn’t. The uncertainty of Washington has been ladled on top of our economy. I didn’t want any more brinksmanship.”
Contact M.D. Kittle at email@example.com.
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