By Wendy Osher
President Barack Obama addressed the nation this morning, urging House Republicans to avert a government shutdown and resolve differences relating to a Continuing Resolution to fund government operations beyond the current funding period which ends on Sept. 30.
In a live televised and web-stream address, the president called on lawmakers to “break this cycle,” saying, “I will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay the bills that have already been racked up.”
“My message to Congress is this: Do not shut down the government. Do not shut down the economy. Pass the budget on time. Pay our bills on time. Refocus on the everyday concerns of the American people,” said President Obama.
“Every day that this goes on is another day that we’re not focused on doing what we need to be focused on, which is rebuilding this great country of ours so that our middle class is growing, and everybody’s got opportunity if they’re willing to work hard,” he said.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio said, “The only thing we want to shut down is Obamacare,” saying that the health reform was an “impediment” to the dream of “working hard for a better life.”
US Senator Brian Schatz was specific in laying blame, saying “A government shutdown would harm the people of Hawai‘i, and it is irresponsible for unbending and intransigent Tea Party Republicans to continue to hold our economy hostage so that they can get their way.”
A shutdown, Schatz said, would:
“Delay new seniors and veterans from receiving benefits and payments, including Social Security; Furlough employees of federal contractors and stop payments on new contracts; Put 25,000 federal employees out of work; Weaken the Centers for Disease Control’s ability to protect public health; Result in the closure of all national parks, museums, and monuments, including the USS Arizona Memorial; Delay military pay; Halt applications for passports and visas, weakening tourism; Shut down financial support for small businesses; Close Head Start centers, hurting our youngest students and their families; and shake consumer confidence nationally and internationally.”
“While the Continuing Resolution is not perfect, it will keep the government from shutting down. We must now work to pass a budget that removes damaging sequestration cuts and represents the priorities of working families,” said Sen. Schatz in a press release statement this morning.
Fellow US Senator, Mazie Hirono also issued a statement today saying, “Hawaii’s visitor industry could also face harm since a long-term shutdown could prevent the State Department from approving new tourist visas.”
“The House needs to quit manufacturing crises that hurt Hawaii’s families and economy and let us get back to crafting legislation that will create jobs and boost our economy,” Hirono said.
Earlier this week, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaiʻi introduced legislation to protect service members and critical Defense Department employees if a government shutdown were implemented on Oct. 1.
According to Gabbard, the Military Pay Protection Act would ensure that those who are serving in the armed forces, and critical civilians working to support service members, can still be paid for their work.
“While the best outcome would be to work together to find a solution and avoid a damaging government shutdown that will hurt all of our federal employees, the Military Pay Protection Act is a first step toward ensuring our troops and their families do not become victims of this unnecessary shutdown,” said Gabbard in a press release issued on Thursday.
Gabbard was among those who voted against a US House-passed proposal last week. According to Gabbard, US Senate leadership has indicated it will consider a funding bill that would not defund Obamacare.
Republican Senator John McCain told CBS News on Friday he had never seen such dysfunction in Congress in his three decades as a senator.
“We are dividing the Republican Party rather than attacking Democrats,” he said.