Davis says Dems are to blame for shutdown
WASHINGTON — It's President Obama and the Senate Democrats, not House Republicans, who are preventing a resolution to the current partial government shutdown, says U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.
The freshman congressman said he expected to be in Washington at least through part of today, voting on separate funding bills for parts of the federal government.
Obama has already said he would veto the "piecemeal" funding bills.
"What we're doing is sending bills over to the Senate, which I hope they will take up, that will begin to make sure that the essential portions of government are operational," Davis said Friday.
He said the legislation would give the president and Senate Democrats an opportunity to show that they are willing to negotiate.
"There comes a time when leadership matters more than politics, and frankly, I think this is a time for the president. This is someone who called the leaders of both parties over to the White House a couple days ago to tell that again he's not willing to negotiate and not willing to communicate," Davis said. "Then he's the one who's not willing to stop the pain that's being inflicted on middle-class Americans during this shutdown."
Davis said House Republicans did not invite the shutdown with their bills to defund and delay the president's Affordable Care Act. They were simply reflecting public opinion, he said.
"There's an overwhelming majority of Americans who feel like I do that Obamacare has issues, and we tried to get the president to address those issues and we'll continue to try to get this president to address those issues," Davis said. "But to basically stand up and say we're not going to talk to you, even though we represent a majority of Americans in the House, is tantamount to a temper tantrum."
Davis insisted that voters in the 13th Congressional District, which stretches from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Collinsville on the southwest, are opposed to the Affordable Care Act.
"It's something I campaigned on and something I've been talking about all along. Until Syria overtook all the debate in August, it was single-handedly the No. 1 issue that was brought to my attention when I was in Illinois the entire month of August," Davis said.
But George Gollin, a University of Illinois professor seeking the Democratic nomination in the 13th District, said Friday that he believes central Illinois voters support Obamacare.
"Look how good the response was to the opening of the websites. The response is overwhelmingly positive," Gollin said at a rally outside of Davis' Champaign office Friday afternoon. "People are finding they can get medical care finally. It's a great thing, and that's why I think it's widely supported."
Gollin called Davis "misinformed" and said he's "trying to take medicine away from people who are sick. That's just not proper. Health care is a human right. It's something that we agreed to do when we signed the United Nations charter. It's a basic human right. It's just something that a decent society does for its inhabitants."
Ann Callis, another Democratic candidate in the 13th, said Friday in Springfield that Davis should demand a vote on a "clean congressional resolution" to end the shutdown, according to spokesman Marshall Cohen.
Robert Naiman, who also appeared at the rally outside of Davis' office Friday, said that "Davis nationally is considered someone who could support a clean resolution" because he is running for re-election in a swing district.
Davis spokesman Andrew Flach said only that the congressman would determine such a vote "if and when a clean CR is brought to the floor."
Callis also said, according to Cohen, that Obamacare "is the law of the land, passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court. Shutting down the government because you don't like a particular law and holding our country hostage is not the right way to govern."
If there are problems with Obamacare, Callis said, "let's fix it."
But Davis' primary election opponent, Urbana attorney Erika Harold, said she supported the House Republicans' efforts to defund or delay the health care act.
"I think attempts to delay the individual mandate were appropriate because the selective way in which the Affordable Care Act currently is being implemented does not properly protect consumers' interests. The delays and malfunctions we have seen since the act's rollout show that the administration was not fully ready to implement it," she said in a prepared statement.
She said the government shutdown "reflects both a failure of leadership and a failure of governance, and I would hope that a conference committee would be convened shortly so that both sides can work toward a resolution."
Davis, too, said he hoped the gridlock would be resolved soon but offered no optimism.
"I'm the guy who didn't think we'd get to a shutdown, so I'm a little more gun shy about predicting whether things will or won't happen," Davis said.
And he insisted that Republicans weren't to blame for the deadlock because of their demand to scale back Obamacare.
"Whatever decisions are made in Washington, all parties bear some part of the blame. But we, the House Republicans, have tried through four votes to avoid a government shutdown," he said. "But each and every time the Senate has said we're not even going to talk about this, and the administration still has said we don't want to talk to anybody about finding a solution. He didn't want to talk to the House Republicans, who were also elected, to find an end to this government shutdown. That tells me it's politics over people."
He also said Republicans weren't being dragged into the issue because of the tea party faction of the GOP.
"No, not at all. Our Republican conference was unified in putting together four different (funding) proposals," he said. "If that was the case, wouldn't you think that the only proposal we would have sent over to avoid a government shutdown would have been to defund Obamacare? We put forth a delay. We put forth to delay the individual mandate and get rid of the special exemption for members of Congress who have to go on the exchange, that those who are part of the individual mandate don't get. If there was a split in the Republican Party, you would have seen a drastic split on those votes."
Davis said House Republicans are making progress on cutting government spending.
"We have made better spending decisions, which has led to a reduced deficit, which puts us on the path to getting our national debt finally paid down," he said. "These are the issues that I said I wanted to run for Congress to fight and to attack, and that's what we we've been doing."