With a government shutdown looming, and Congress as divided and dysfunctional as ever, Chaplain Barry Black opened a U.S. Senate session Friday with a prayer for our times.
“Lord, deliver us from governing by crisis,” he said.
It might take some divine intervention to get these alleged public servants to do some actual work on behalf of the American people.
The budget year ends Monday, and a partial federal shutdown could result Oct. 1 if no spending plan is adopted.
The Republican-led House of Representatives vowed to defeat any bill that did not defund the federal health-care plan known as “Obamacare.”
Looming in mid-October is another deadline for addressing the debt ceiling.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said: “I don’t think you hear responsible Republican leaders advocating a shutdown of the government.”
Responsible leaders, however, are in short supply — in both parties.
We’re troubled that the House leadership keeps pushing through bills it knows have little chance in the Senate, while rejecting even commonsense approaches to our most pressing issues from moderates on both sides of the political aisle.
Local Rep. Glenn Thompson touted his involvement in the No Labels Problem Solvers movement, a coalition of 80 House members who pledged to push for nonpartisanship in tackling key issues.
But his votes on recent bills have put Thompson in lock step with the GOP leadership, including the stubborn approach to the budget crisis and health care.
Regular readers of our Opinion page likely noted these items in the weekly Roll Call report Monday:
• Thompson voted yes on a bill to cut spending on food stamps by $4 billion annually over 10 years. The bill pushes off to states the problem of determining who should be eligible, and handling of the problem of food-stamp abuse by those not actively working to get off the assistance program.
• Thompson voted no as the House defeated a bill that would have denied prohibiting food stamps to those who might most need the help: veterans, pregnant women, the disabled, children and seniors.
• He supported bills to cut timber in national forests and to fast-track mining permits, but opposed a bill that would limit mineral exports to countries that violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.
• Thompson, Blair County’s Bill Shuster and the GOP House majority passed a bill to defund Obamacare while continuing spending cuts known as “sequestration.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee accused the GOP of pandering to insurance companies in their drive to squash federal health care.
Thompson “and his Republican Congress have no solution to their manufactured crisis — but continue to jeopardize the entire economy just to give insurance companies free rein to charge the people of Pennsylvania more for their health care,” the committee said.
Democrats, meanwhile, including the president, brush off flaws in the roll-out of the health care plan rather than admitting that real problems exist in the massive overhaul of our cost-burdened health care system.
And of course, the congressional Democrats forgot to mention steps taken by their leaders and members to avoid reforms of welfare and the food-stamp program, and to generally choose increasing taxes over reduced spending as a means to closing the federal budget gap.
As Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Elmendorf said recently: “The federal budget is on a course that cannot be sustained indefinitely.”
Nobody is willing to sit down and find sensible solutions to our problems.
Each vote in Washington is a vote against parties, not a vote for policy.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s daylong “filibuster” against the budget plan, which included the reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” was an absurd twist on the ridiculous environment in Washington, where “no” is the only answer when “let’s talk” is sorely needed.
The greatest irony is that members of Congress would get paid in the event of a shutdown.
While they’ve done little of note in years, these folks are considered essential government personnel.