News / USA

Amid Government Shutdown, US Lawmakers Point Fingers

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (L), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Speaker of the House John Boehner, during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Oct. 1, 2013.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (L), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Speaker of the House John Boehner, during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Oct. 1, 2013.
Michael Bowman
As a partial U.S. government shutdown nears a second day, the legislative breakdown that produced it shows no signs of repair. Members of Congress pointed fingers at one another Tuesday, and jockeyed to avoid blame for the suspension of federal operations.

Political brinksmanship ruled the day in Congress.  With lawmakers bracing for a popular backlash against the halt in government services, Republicans proposed piecemeal funding to reopen some of the nation’s most-popular federal entities.  Senator Ted Cruz urged emergency funds for national parks and the agency serving America’s veterans.

“We should reopen the national parks today.  We should fund the VA [Veterans Administration] today.  The only reason it might not happen is if Harry Reid and Democrats object.  I hope they do not," said Cruz.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected the Republican idea as “wacky.”  Fellow Democratic Senator Richard Durbin called it an outrage.

“Senator Cruz is going to pick and choose those departments of government that he wants to open.  To think that this senator has the nerve to try to decide what is really, really important for America," said Durbin.

By the end of the day, the piecemeal funding initiative had faltered.  But the episode forced Democrats into the uncomfortable position of opposing a limited reopening of the federal government, and aided Republican efforts to portray themselves as reasonable compromisers - and Democrats as hardline intransigents.

Those efforts began earlier in the day, when the Republican-led House voted to begin negotiations with the Senate on ending the government shutdown.  Republican Congressman Tom McClintock said that is how Congress is supposed to work.

“After the House and Senate have exercised their best judgment, they are then supposed to sit down and negotiate out their differences," said  McClintock.

Those differences center on President Barack Obama’s health care law, a major portion of which went into effect Tuesday.  Republicans have sought to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, and many House Republicans refuse to vote to fund the government absent provisions eroding the law, also known as Obamacare.

Senate Democrats said they would welcome bicameral conferences, but not during a government shutdown.  Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“We [Senate Democrats] are happy to go to conference.  But only if the government is reopened," said Reid.

Reid called on the House to pass a funding bill free of political stipulations.  House Speaker John Boehner had this response:

“My goodness, they [Democrats] will not even sit down and have a discussion about this," said Boehner.

Democrats accuse Republicans of holding government funding hostage to their political agenda and say they will not reward that behavior.

Initial polling shows the American people more apt to blame Republicans than Democrats or President Obama for the government shutdown.  Republicans want to change the perception of culpability. Democrats are banking on it continuing and forcing a resolution of the impasse on their terms.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs