The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 2, 2013

Who's to blame for gov't shutdown? Pa. pols point fingers

— A lot of congressmen and senators are blaming politicians other than themselves for causing the federal government shutdown that started on Tuesday.

Two local members of the U.S. House of Representatives – Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, and Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg – feel the Democrats are responsible, as does their fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. His colleague in the upper chamber, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, chided the GOP for, in his opinion, creating the situation.

Shuster took a direct verbal jab at President Barack Obama during a conference call on Tuesday.

“First and foremost, nobody wants a government shutdown here, except I think the president of the United States,” said Shuster.

The federal government’s new fiscal year started at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. With no spending plan in place, many parts of the government have been forced to close.

A Republican-controlled House passed four bills to keep the government open. However, all of the proposals included language that would either defund or significantly alter the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the signature piece of legislation from Obama’s presidency that is supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev.

“The House has sent numerous reasonable solutions to the Senate to keep the doors of the federal government open,” said Rothfus. “Senator Reid’s refusal to discuss, negotiate or work with the House on a solution resulted in the shutdown of the federal government. This is an unacceptable and unfortunate result – the American people expect and deserve better.”

The Senate has approved its own spending plans with the PPACA conditions stripped out.

“On a party-line vote, Senator Harry Reid rejected this compromise offer and voted to shut down the government instead,” said Toomey after one of the funding proposals passed the Senate. “While I am disappointed by this vote, I will continue working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to find common ground and end this standoff.”

By a 54-46 vote on Tuesday morning, the Senate rejected a request to begin formal bargaining.

“The Senate must now come to the table,” said Rothfus.

Democrats have blamed Republicans for bringing the health care law, which was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, into the discussion of funding the government, especially since the PPACA exchanges opened on Tuesday.

“This is a crisis manufactured and perpetuated solely by Congressional Republicans who allowed a tea party takeover of the Republican Party in Washington,” said Casey. “These Washington politicians who receive quality health care themselves are insistent on delaying health care for millions of Americans. Unless Republican leaders get control of their party, extreme right ideology will take precedence over the middle class, jobs, economic growth and national defense.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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