The situation in Washington is hectic, and conditions are changing quickly, but I wanted to take a moment to give you a quick update on where things stand right now.
First and foremost: the shut-down will not affect Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security payments. And yesterday, Congress unanimously passed legislation ensuring military members, some federal civilian personnel, and some federal contractors their pay even if funds for other government operations expire.
Regardless of whether the government is too big, simply shutting it down is not responsible. I have voted "yes" on three different continuing resolutions to fund the government for the rest of the year.
The House has now passed three different bills that would avert the shut-down. Each one of them made concessions while still delaying ObamaCare. The House has passed resolutions to bring the matter to a conference committee, where the House and Senate can get together and negotiate a solution.
The President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have both made clear that no compromise is acceptable to them. "I will not negotiate on anything," the President proclaimed.
This is patently unreasonable, especially when the President has granted waivers from ObamaCare to his political allies in big business.
It's typical of politicians to play the Blame Game, but if you look at the facts, the situation is clear.
The bottom line is, no matter what any politician from either party will say about the other, the only way a shut-down can occur is if neither side can agree.
The House has been willing to compromise at every stage, and urge we move to conference committee. The Senate is absolutely unwilling to negotiate anything at all.
The fact is, the President neglected his Oath of Office to faithfully execute the laws of the United States when he decreed that the employer mandate of ObamaCare would be delayed. In essence, he changed the law after it was passed via dictate rather than through Congress.
Now, the government has been shut down because the Democrats are unwilling to give hard-working individuals and families the same break that the President decided to give corporations and a few special interests.
The President's pursuit of his political objectives is as ruthless as ever. We can only hope the Senate comes to its senses and to the negotiating table soon.
Lastly, there has been some discussion about the special treatment members of Congress and staff will supposedly receive under ObamaCare.
In fact, ObamaCare stipulated that members of Congress and staff could only obtain plans created by the bill or offered through exchanges established by the bill. While congressional staff do receive health insurance, it should be the same insurance Americans will receive--the ObamaCare exchanges. There is no exemption for members of Congress or their staff.
What is most urgently needed, right now, is for the two sides to get together and negotiate a compromise.
I have said I will not vote to fund ObamaCare. It is outrageous to force Americans to buy health insurance. It is discriminatory to allow exemptions for some politically connected entities but not for average Americans.
Most of all, it's unfair to the federal employees and those who depend on their services that their lives are toyed with over this political game. I'm no fan of big government, but nobody should have to wonder whether Congress will get its act together or they will be out of work next week.
At the very least, the Democrats could allow for ObamaCare to be delayed so that these issues can be resolved without federal employees being put out of work.
I will keep you informed of the situation as it develops.
Rep. Kerry Bentivolio