U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, said Wednesday that he’d support an agreement to end the government shutdown without touching the federal health care law — but only if the deal addresses the government’s looming debt limit and long-term reforms to Medicare and Social Security spending.
The Republican-led House has been at an impasse with the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama over GOP leaders’ insistence that a bill to finance government operations include a delay or cut-off of money for the Affordable Care Act.
Obama and congressional Democrats have insisted on a “clean” spending bill, also called a continuing resolution or CR, without any changes to the health care law.
While the parties disagree over the continuing resolution, the government is expected to reach the $16.7 trillion limit on its borrowing authority by Oct. 17. A bill to raise the debt limit could bring another standoff between Republicans and Democrats.
“I’d like to see us merge the CR and the debt limit into a deal for entitlement reform,” Rooney said Wednesday. “That’s the real driver of our long-term debt. Obama is not going to repeal Obamacare.”
On the second day of the government shutdown, members of Palm Beach County’s all-Democratic congressional delegation voiced frustration with the budget stalemate.
“This is infuriating,” said freshman U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. “It is disgraceful that Congress has thrown 800,000 patriotic Americans out of work. The speaker of House is turning this shutdown into a publicity stunt. We need to reopen the entire government now.”
The “publicity stunt” referred to three House votes Tuesday night on bills to keep national parks and museums open and fund veterans benefits and the government of the District of Columbia, while most of the federal government remains shuttered. Each of the bills got near-unanimous Republican support Tuesday while attracting 34 or fewer votes from Democrats.
Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, broke with most of his party and voted for all three measures Tuesday night. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, voted for the District of Columbia bill while opposing the other two. Frankel and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, voted against all three.
“Congressman Ted Deutch voted against the mini-spending bills because they are gimmicks for Republicans who shut down the government to give themselves political cover for the consequences of their irresponsible behavior,” said Deutch spokeswoman Ashley Mushnick.
Hastings said House Speaker John Boehner has surrendered control to tea party Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
“Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are wagging the body of the Republican dog and it’s regrettable and harmful to this nation for such fecklessness and recklessness to be pursued by a small group of people who are tea party people that are controlling John Boehner and the greater majority of the House of Representatives,” Hastings said.
“In the 21 years that I’m here this is the worst that I’ve seen and the lack of communication and the intensity of the hyperbole and bloviation is beyond the pale,” Hastings said. “These people need to get a grip.”