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Virginia congressmen had mixed reactions Tuesday
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The area’s congressmen expressed a mixture of hopefulness and frustration Tuesday as the nation grew closer to the deadline to avoid a Treasury default without an agreement on how to avoid that and end the partial government shutdown.
The frustration in Sen. Mark Warner’s voice was apparent early Tuesday afternoon as he fielded questions from news outlets during a conference call.
“Exasperation is putting it mildly,” Warner said of the apparent end to negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate on a proposal to reopen government, raise the debt ceiling and allow the U.S. to pay its bills. Those negotiations were halted while House Republicans crafted their own effort, which later collapsed.
“It seems that talks in the Senate are stalled again (and) the clock is ticking” toward Thursday, Warner said of the looming deadline identified by the Treasury Department as the day it will be unable to borrow or pay the country’s bills.
Provided an agreement is reached, Warner said, it likely will push Thursday’s deadline “right up to the edge.” With all the proposals and the twists and turns that led to the partial shutdown of the federal government 14 days ago, he said, “everything here feels like we’re going through a kabuki dance.”
Ninth District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said he does believe Congress will reach a compromise by the deadline, but he seemed pessimistic on the chances that the House GOP plan he supported — which would have extended the debt ceiling deadline to Feb. 7 and passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through Dec. 15. — would gain the backing of the Senate or of President Barack Obama.
That plan would create time to continue negotiating the issues, he said.
“The only thing that would not be part of a clean CR” under that plan is that the president, his staff and cabinet members would be required to get their health care insurance plans under the health exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, according to Griffith.
“Millions of Americans are having to do it, why shouldn’t the president?” Griffith said. He added that members of Congress and their staffs are required to purchase health insurance plans through the health insurance exchanges.
“If this is rejected, I’ll have to see what the Senate sends over,” Griffith said Tuesday afternoon.
House Speaker John Boehner withdrew that plan Tuesday evening, The Associated Press reported. It appeared that negotiations were headed back to the Senate, where leaders were optimistic they would reach an agreement, the AP reported.
For his part, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said in a statement that he was disappointed that the House spent time Tuesday crafting its own plan rather than working on the plan created earlier in the Senate.
“Yesterday the Democratic and Republican Senate leadership announced progress on a bipartisan deal to re-open government, ensure that America honors its fiscal obligations, and, at long last, begin a two month budget conference between House and Senate negotiators to find a long-term fiscal compromise to grow our economy ....
“Today, I was extremely disappointed to learn that negotiations were being suspended on this bipartisan approach to allow the House Republican majority to form a partisan plan that might have a chance of passing the House, but without any Democratic participation or support,” Kaine stated.
He called on members of both parties to work together to find a solution.
“It is absolutely clear that solving our nation’s fiscal challenges in a divided Congress will require a bipartisan process where House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, agree to compromise for the good of the country,” Kaine said.
In a statement released by his office, 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, expressed both frustration with the Senate and some optimism that a solution will be reached.
“Two weeks into this lapse in federal operations, I remain committed to making every effort to fund critical government programs,” Hurt stated. “We in the House have passed 15 pieces of legislation to fund programs within the government since the beginning of this impasse; however, all but one of these have been blocked by our colleagues in the Senate.
“What’s worse, they refuse to negotiate on a long-term solution so that we can reopen the government in full. I am hopeful that the conversations currently taking place will lead to a resolution to this situation so that we can move forward and concentrate on implementing fiscally sound policies on behalf of the American people.”