A handful of Bradley County residents encouraged Congress to do its job and pay the nation’s debts instead of letting the United States default on its obligations to its citizens and to the rest of the world.
Nine people stood in front of the office of 4th District U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais Tuesday at noon to urge him and other Republicans to end the shutdown of the federal government and to raise the debt ceiling before the Thursday deadline. They were members of the Bradley County Democratic Party and Organizing For Action.
According to The Associated Press, Senate leaders are optimistic about forging an eleventh-hour deal preventing a possible federal default and ending the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1.
A written statement from the congressman’s office later in the day stated he would not vote for any legislation that would fund the Affordable Care Act.
The statement to the Cleveland Daily Banner said, “At this time Congressman DesJarlais will not vote for any legislation that funds the Affordable Care Act. He believes that the short-term consequences of a government shutdown pale in comparison to the negative effects that the Affordable Health Care Act will have on our nation’s economy and heath care system.”
Bradley County Democratic Party Public Relations Chair Angela Minor said DesJarlais should tell that to the children in Tennessee, whose working parents have lost childcare support.
“Tell that to the seniors who won’t eat this week because of cuts to Meals on Wheels and tell that to our veterans who will see job training programs cut,” she said. “Veterans’ benefits are not an entitlement. They are a debt. Those benefits are a promise made to our military men and women in exchange for their sacrifices.”
According to AP reports, with Thursday’s deadline just hours away, this is the day the Obama administration has warned it will run out of borrowing authority and face the risk of a federal default that could shake the world economy.
The Senate leaders’ talks were continuing Wednesday after an extraordinary day in the House. On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner produced two bills to end the shutdown and avoid a default but couldn’t find enough GOP support to bring them up for votes.
Pressured by the calendar, financial markets and public opinion polls, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were hoping to shake hands on an agreement Wednesday and, if possible, hold votes later in the day.
Lawmakers feared that spooked financial markets would plunge unless a deal was at hand and that voters would take it out on incumbents in next year’s congressional elections — though polls show the public more inclined to blame Republicans.
Feeding concerns were a warning Tuesday from the Fitch credit rating agency that due to the budget impasse it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade. Stock markets gave negative reviews as well, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index both dropping Tuesday by nearly 1 percent.
It was expected to mirror a deal the leaders had neared Monday. That agreement was described as extending the debt limit through Feb. 7, immediately reopening the government fully and keeping agencies running until Jan. 15 — likely leaving lawmakers clashing over the same disputes in the near future.
It also set a mid-December deadline for bipartisan budget negotiators to report on efforts to reach compromise on longer-term issues like spending cuts. And it likely would require the Obama administration to certify that it can verify the income of people who qualify for federal subsidies for medical insurance under the 2010 health care law, according to AP wire stories.
Organizing For Action State Director Justin Wilkins, of Chattanooga, said Boehner caved to the tea party and sabotaged the economy by shutting down the government. “Now they are threatening a global financial meltdown by refusing to do what every American does — pay their bills. Their irresponsible choices are putting American people's hard-earned progress at risk. We need everyone to say enough already to the tea party.
“Over the last four years, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth. Unfortunately, rather than working together to build on the progress we’ve made, a small group of Republicans in Congress have forced a government shutdown that is hurting the economy and threatening the security of middle class families,” he continued.
“At the same time, the Republican government shutdown has cut off many resources for already strained state and local governments, creating widespread uncertainty for families, seniors, and people with disabilities. If the shutdown continues, states will eventually have to make up for the delayed federal funds themselves or else cut services for program participants.”
According to www.barackobama.com, Organizing For Action is a nonprofit organization established to move forward the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012.
OFA will advocate these policies throughout the country and will mobilize citizens of all parties and diverse backgrounds to speak out for passage and effective implementation of the policies, including gun violence prevention, sensible environmental policies to address climate change and immigration reform, among others.