The Inland Northwest’s congressional delegation remained split on who to blame for the federal government shutdown, set to enter its third day today.
Republicans in the House of Representatives, including Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, of Spokane, and Raul Labrador, of Eagle, Idaho, are accusing the Democratic-controlled Senate of ignoring their demands to delay implementation of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Senate Democrats, including Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, say House Republicans are holding the nation hostage over an ideological dispute that’s already been settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said Wednesday he thinks Obama must show a willingness to talk with political adversaries and allow the Affordable Care Act to at least be part of the negotiations.
“You can’t be captain of a ship, and when the ship’s foundering, you lock yourself in the wheelhouse and say, ‘I’m not talking to anybody,’ “ Risch said Wednesday.
But Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, took to the Senate floor earlier this week and equated House Republicans’ efforts to obtain health care concessions or undergo a prolonged shutdown to negotiating “with a gun to our heads.”
“To this point, Republican leaders have chosen shutdown over sanity and politics over the many people who will be impacted by the shuttering of our government,” Murray said Tuesday.
McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, continued to put the blame on Senate leaders. Earlier this week, the Spokane Republican penned an op-ed appearing in USA Today that admonished Senate Democrats for refusing “to make the tough decisions.”
Riva Litman, a spokeswoman for McMorris Rodgers, said Tuesday that House Republican leadership was growing exasperated with the Senate’s refusal to negotiate.
“They haven’t demonstrated any willingness to do that,” Litman said.
Labrador, a favorite among tea-party conservatives advocating limited government, expressed similar frustration with Senate leadership in an email to supporters earlier this week.
“During the past two weeks, I voted for – and the House passed – three different (continuing resolutions) to keep the government open, while also shielding the American people from the worst aspects of Obamacare,” Labrador wrote. “The Senate, however, refused to accept our C.R.s.”
In a prepared statement, Cantwell called the shutdown a “needless crisis.”
“Congress has to stop being the biggest economic threat to our nation,” Cantwell said.
Judd Deere, a spokesman for Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said there are fears on Capitol Hill that a prolonged shutdown could spill over into the next government showdown over the nation’s borrowing limit. If that happens, the shutdown could last weeks, Deere said.
“(Crapo) is concerned about the shutdown lasting that long,” Deere said.