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Warner blames 'hostage takers' for shutdown
'Small group' of House Republicans
Sen. Mark Warner
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
Don’t blame every Republican for the federal government shutdown, according to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.
In a phone call with reporters across the state Tuesday afternoon, Warner said the shutdown stems from the actions of “a small group” of Republican House members determined to have their way — or else.
“I do not believe that the majority of Republicans agree with those burn-down-the-house tactics” of extremely conservative GOP members, he said.
If the House speaker put a bill on the floor to resume operations of the government, it would pass with the support of the majority of members of both parties, Warner predicted, based on his talks with Republicans.
When pressed by reporters, Warner would not identify specific Republicans who favored shutting down the government and to whom he was referring.
However, he sharply criticized them, saying they essentially are “hostage takers,” with the federal government their victim.
“I have not seen such a level of irresponsible behavior in my public life,” Warner said.
“I hope that group in the House will come to its senses” and work with members of both parties to get the government running again, he said.
Warner said he personally is willing to listen to ideas for revising health care reform informally known as “Obamacare.”
He criticized lawmakers who sparked the shutdown for tacking health care onto budget legislation, where he indicated it didn’t belong.
The shutdown could cause severe problems for the government, according to Warner, a former Virginia governor.
He mentioned the military as an example. While armed forces members still will be paid during the shutdown, civilian employees who make up about 70 percent of federal intelligence officials have been furloughed, he said.
As a result, he said, troops overseas may not have the intelligence they need to keep them safe when battling enemy forces.
Warner on Tuesday joined Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and two other senators in introducing the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act,” which would guarantee that federal workers furloughed due to the lapse in federal funding or government shutdown eventually would receive their full pay.
Warner said there are more than 150,000 civilian federal employees in Virginia, many of whom already endured furloughs from sequestration.
Their “financial well-being has become collateral damage simply because a handful of extreme politicians in the House refuse to compromise,” he said.
“For an unspecified period of time, these public servants will be left wondering when they’ll see their next paycheck,” Kaine said in a release. “At a time when we should be doing everything we can to hold on to the talent of our federal workforce, the least we can do is guarantee that they’re paid back when the government re-opens.”
Ultimately, the shutdown probably will hurt U.S. citizens and the economy more than it hurts the government, Warner said.
For example, he said, vendors on the National Mall and hotel operators in Washington are “never going to recuperate” from revenue they lose when tourists stop visiting the Capitol during the shutdown.
And, people wanting to buy a house or start a business may be out of luck for now — both the Federal Housing Administration and the Small Business Administration are shut down, he pointed out.
Warner said he cannot predict how the shutdown will influence elections on Nov. 5. But he said “people have every right to be mad as hell” at lawmakers who are responsible.