Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government shutdown prohibits picnic at the lake

Lake Norfork
A calm and serene Lake Norfork
I'm really upset that I'm unable to go to the lake today for a picnic. There will be no yummy sandwiches, no homemade potato salad, and no tasty iced tea to wash it down. There will be no watching the Great Blue Herons along the shore or diving just below the surface of the water; no ducks swimming lazily in formation. I won't be able to watch the parade of squirrels chasing each other as they fight for their stash of acorns high in the oak trees whose leaves are starting to fall. I won't be able to watch boats zip across the water.

Truthfully, I had no plans to visit the lake today. I only want to because I know I can't. I am barred from the park by the lake because it is run by the Army Corps of Engineers and they were told not to report to work today. I'm no different than anyone else that is unable to enjoy my day. All federal parks, museums, the national zoo, and every other government facility is closed up tight; it is closed because the United States government is shut down due to inaction by the U.S. Congress to fund our government. 

If I was John Boehner, Speaker of the House, I would pack my picnic basket, get in my car, drive to the park, and ram it right through the gate. 

That is in essence what he did when he refused to call a clean CR (continuing resolution) to the floor that had already been passed by the U.S. Senate. It would have passed by members on both sides of the aisle. Instead, he and his merry madmen took the country hostage over his insistence that there be changes in the Affordable Care Act. There were three attempts to pass the CR with amendments related to gutting the ACA or better known as Obamacare. One of the provisions in the amendments was to allow employers to opt out of providing women's reproductive rights. Do you want your employer to decide what is best for you or your wife? 

Boehner also tried additional amendments, all related to Obamacare. Senate leaders were clear that any CR related to Obamacare would not pass. They stood their ground.

Instead of doing the right thing, Boehner refused to allow the clean CR to come to the floor, something he could have done yesterday and could still do today. 

The parade of Republicans speaking for the various amendments, each one designed to harm President Obama's signature accomplishment. One of the amendments would delay the implementation of Obamacare for a year. It was scheduled to begin today. Indeed, masses of Americans signed up for health care through the ACA today. The government shutdown had no effect because the funding was already ensured.

Another House Republican amendment, which came out of the 'rules' committee, made up of 9 Republicans and 4 Democrats, would exempt congressional members' own employees from eligibility of the Affordable Care Act. Their final attempt, just minutes before the government deadline prior to the shutdown, was to establish a conference committee to iron out the differences between the two houses. That is customary when both houses pass two differing versions of the same bill. That was something members of the senate tried to do since March when both houses passed spending bills. It didn't happen because Boehner refused to appoint members to the conference committee. Instead, Boehner's House was busy trying to repeal Obamacare -- 42 times. 

The part that annoyed me the most, during my six-hour marathon session with C-Span and C-Span 2, as I watched all the action take place live, was how Republicans tried to act as innocents as they blamed everyone but themselves. 

Make no mistake about this, Speaker John Boehner must take responsibility for shutting down the government. He and his tea party members took the country hostage, refusing to do the people's business. His actions were reprehensible! 

My desire to enjoy a day at the lake will just have to wait until the government comes to its senses, if that ever happens. My disappointment pales in comparison to the millions of workers that were told not to come to work today, will not get paid, and who knows for how long? 

I certainly hope the American people remember this day on Nov. 14, 2014 when House members want you to trust them to do the public's business for another two years. 
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