Your Capitol Voice: Congress on shutdown, Obamacare
by Bobby Kaufmann, State Representative · Op-Ed · October 11, 2013
Fresh off a highly successful session that I got to play a large part in, I was quite happy with politics.
I have great working relationships with Democrats and we as a team were able to move Iowa forward in a big way. Republicans and Democrats actually worked together. I had high hopes Iowa would be able to be a model for the country.
The government shutdown was such a slap in the face to progress, to common-sense, and to what the American people want.
I first started off by being the first state legislator to issue a press release calling for all Congressional and White House pay to stop until resolution is found.
That is the way it works in Iowa and I don’t think you should be paid for doing nothing. My tipping point was hearing about my constituents at the Hoover Association, USDA in Tipton, and countless other federal workers being forced to stay home while Congress and the White House continued to bicker.
I decided to buy a plane ticket and head to Washington DC to talk to our officials face to face and tell them what I had been hearing back home.
I want to thank both Senator Grassley and Congressman Loebsack not only for taking time to meet with me, but for being there.
Too many Senate and Congress office doors were dark with signs on them saying they were not in. I conveyed to them that the folks back home want to see everyone work together, they want to see this end, and they are scared of $17 trillion in debt that is piling up.
Most importantly, I conveyed that I have a lot of constituents that like Obamacare, a lot who do not, but one thing that threads us together is that if DC wants to impose Obamacare, then they should be under it themselves. No exemptions.
One of most troubling parts of my trip was seeing the shut-down of our National Monuments. A group of Iowa veterans on an honor flight were greeted with barricades.
Keep in mind that these are open-air monuments with little daily security. The public can access these 24/7/365 without restrictions.
My research shows that the federal government spent $180,000 on barricades – MORE than is typically spent on the light security pre-shutdown. It is shameful this order was given and I was happy to be there during the World War II veterans insistence (along with every member of the Iowa delegation) they be allowed in.
The same brave men and women that stormed the beaches of Normandy and fought for our freedoms got to win one more battle. Below are my two interviews:
When do you think this will end?
Grassley: I do not believe or support a default so by Oct. 17th when we run out of money.
Loebsack: Hopefully before the 17th. I would like to see this end immediately but I agree that is a likely end date.
Who is at fault?
Grassley: There is plenty of fault to go around but I have made it clear to President Obama and Harry Reid that I am here and ready to talk.
Loebsack: A small faction in the Republican Party. I am willing to work towards a solution and I believe there is common ground to be found.
Do you support Congress being under the same healthcare as everyone else?
Grassley: I am the author of the amendment that would require Congress to be under Obamacare like everyone else. In the 90’s, I passed a sweeping bill that removed decade’s worth of laws that Congress exempted themselves from.
Loebsack: Yes – there should be no special treatment.
Do you support my call for Congressional pay freeze?
Grassley: I support a pay freeze for anyone not doing their job. I, however, have been in the office all day every day since the shutdown trying to work out a deal and for the first time in a long time am not going home on the weekends so I can help bring this to an end.
Loebsack: I do support you on that. I was on the record calling for that in the very beginning.
What is your stance on the shutdown of the memorials?
Grassley: It was one of the most spiteful things I have seen in politics. Open air monuments that do not typically need guards. Having barriers across them was purely political theater. I was happy to help the veterans get through and see their monument.
Loebsack: I was there greeting the veterans when they came and helping them to get through the barricades. Iowa’s delegation really came together on this.
Finally, what is your message back home to constituents affected?
Grassley: I am here, I am working hard for you, and I am willing make this all work if everyone would talk.
Loebsack: I am here doing everything I can. I am hopeful and working towards a bipartisan agreement that will limit damage to individual Iowans.