President Obama may claim the United States is in an unprecedented situation, but the position we find ourselves in is not a new one. Since 1977, the United States has found itself in some sort of partial government shutdown 17 times. Some of these have been rooted in ideological battles, some in the details of individual pieces of legislation, and others in the levels of budgets, but the unifying factor among each of these battles is that every single occurrence was resolved through negotiation.
The motivating factors behind the current shutdown are hardly different than those that have come before it. Under the Constitution, Congress must pass laws to spend money. This is typically done through the appropriations and budget process where Congress votes for a budget that sets overall spending levels and then passes a series of appropriations bills. In recent years, Congress has failed to agree on spending bills, forcing passage of what is called a continuing resolution, that maintains spending levels for all or part of the year. If Congress can’t agree on this stopgap spending bill, the government does not have the legal authority to spend money and is effectively “shut down,” which is where we find ourselves now.
My Republican colleagues and I in the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution that appropriates the necessary funds to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare. As I have outlined before, Obamacare is a disastrous law that has already proven to be detrimental to our community. North Carolina will see individual-market rates triple for women and quadruple for men. I am firmly committed to repealing, replacing, defunding, and delaying this law.
From the outset of the current budget debate, President Obama and his Democrat allies in the Senate have refused to even consider any changes to ObamaCare. But when it comes down to it, the president and Senate Democrats simply aren’t playing fair. As recently as last week, the president granted exemptions and delays of the law, including a one-year delay for big business and special subsidies for members of Congress.
I believe all Americans should be treated the same, and this is exactly what House Republicans have proposed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The House passed a reasonable continuing resolution that delays ObamaCare’s individual mandate for one year and ends the subsidies for members of Congress. If the law isn’t good enough for big business and the politically-connected, it shouldn’t be good enough for the American people. The Senate rejected the bill and also rejected a bill to form a committee to hammer out the differences between the House and Senate and get the government running again.
Over the past few days, the House has taken a series of steps to ensure that critical government operations stay open. We have voted to reopen our national parks, ensure our National Guard and reservists are paid, reopen the National Institute of Health and ensure that all patients have access to clinical trials, fund veterans’ benefits, and provide nutrition funding for low-income women, infants, and children. I urge the Senate to take up these bipartisan measures swiftly and decisively.
In the coming days, my hope is that the president and Senate Democrats will follow in the steps of their predecessors and engage in negotiations to resolve this impasse. In the meantime, the House will continue to act to open as much of the government as possible and eagerly await action from the president and Senate.
Richard Hudson is the U.S. House representative for the 8th District.