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Tea Party Drives Republican Hardline on Government Funding

Tea Party Drives Republican Hard Line on Government Fundingi
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October 05, 2013 1:57 PM
A one-page letter - signed by almost one-fifth of the legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives - was a factor leading to a political stalemate and the U.S. government shutdown. Congress and the President cannot agree on continuing to fund the government, with the Republicans determined to undermine the President’s signature healthcare law. As VOA’s Carolyn Presutti tells us, some powerful Republicans say they are bowing to the wishes of their constituents.
A one-page letter - signed by almost one-fifth of the legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives - was a factor leading to a political stalemate and the U.S. government shutdown. Congress and President Barack Obama cannot agree on continuing to fund the government, with the Republicans determined to undermine the president’s signature health care law.  Some powerful Republicans say they are bowing to the wishes of their constituents.

Outside the Capitol, Washington, D.C. is quiet.  Inside, talk is tough. Democrats support the president.

“What have we come to here? We have the best country in the world and it’s time we start running it again,” asked Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind).

“The House has compromised over and over and over again," insisted Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky).

Ultra-conservative

Republican Congressman Barr belongs to the ultra-conservative arm called the Tea Party.  It arrived on the political scene in 2009.  The movement is now a force within the party.

Eighty members (a third of House Republicans, including Barr) signed a letter connecting a repeal of health care reform to any resolution that keeps the government running.  

Barr accused Democrats of pushing through the health care reform act in 2010 when they had a majority in both houses of Congress, and said his Kentucky constituents did’t like it.

“I cannot ignore the deluge of calls and conversations and communications that I’m getting from constituents talking about Obamacare hurting them, their businesses and their families,” he said.

Anti-Obama

According to the Cook Political Report, most of the 80 Republicans come from districts that voted unlike most of the country.  For example, President Obama only received 38 percent of the vote in Barr’s district.  And while voters nationwide are looking more diverse, the Cook Report said Republican districts are getting whiter.

Moderate Republicans agree that Obamacare should be diminished but oppose the tactics of the Tea Party - like shutting down the government.  Analysts said they were looking over their shoulder, afraid of a Tea Party challenger, if they didn't go along. 

“In the case of Republicans looking over their right shoulders, they may be safe in their districts as Republicans if they were to face a Democrat in an election, but they may not be safe from a primary challenge,” explained John Fortier, of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Blame game

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats accuse each other of refusing to compromise. 

"All we are asking for is to sit down and have a discussion," insisted House Speaker John Boehner.

"Mr. Speaker, You shut down the federal government. But now what?” asked said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii).

 “It’s part of our polarized world," remarked Fortier. "The extent that we have divided government.  Our parties differ a lot.  It’s likely that part of this is the new normal.”

So for now, the factions wait to see which side blinks first.  Until then, the federal government remains shut down until further notice.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

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by: Shari from: Connecticut
October 09, 2013 9:21 AM
The tea party is a disgrace!! I believe u will all be voted out!! U should be!!!!!!

by: Steve Ryder from: OKLA
October 08, 2013 11:08 PM
Republicans please watch where your money goes.....a lot of our money is ending up in blue states supporting exactly what you don't believe in or want....It will bite you in the a/? at the next national election.

by: Irma Middleton from: Flint, Mi
October 08, 2013 10:17 AM
Funny, it's the House of Representatives that is organized by Speaker John Boehner, that shut down. Blame the President, who doesn't write the bills. We the American People wanted the Health Care Bill. We voted, majority wins. The Supreme Court ratified the bill. Now we have to deal with spoiled children from Republican Party and face debt ceiling issues, and government shutdown. Republican Party, I will never again vote one in again for anything. I've always voted for whom I thought was most qualified. Republican Governor. Never again.

by: Alex from: Canada
October 07, 2013 12:40 AM
The 16. 7 trillion dollar debt means the US is bankrupt. So why to keep prolonging the end until the US economy is completely destroyed (it is half destroyed already).
Better to default and start a new life, maybe next time we will be smarter and will not allow the governments to borrow any money (really just common sense).
Assuming a US population of 314 million, the debt/capita is ~53 thousand dollars for every living soul including children, the elderly, prisoners ect...
Impossible to pay it back.
In Response

by: mayakaren from: kuala lumpur
October 07, 2013 7:00 AM
why pay back just print more money

by: Anonymous
October 06, 2013 5:23 PM
What is wrong with u people, healthcare should be a available to everyone, and getting some money from everyone is better than no money from people that refused to do anything about it!

by: RealMrTea from: Kansas City Missouri
October 06, 2013 12:45 AM
These boys aren't very bright...

The constitution is very specific (and verbose) as to what it intends in these situations, and has it's provisions for good reason. Any changes you make (even in interpretation) will absolutely come back on you when the shoe is on the other foot. ..
Imagine for a minute a time in the future, when The GOP has elected a President, and majority in the Senate and the democrats have a majority in the house. Trust me, as someone that has been around a long time, it WILL happen, it's just a matter of when...

Now.. Do you really want them to be able to undo the Tax Cuts you just put through? How about that Social Security reform? Medicare reform? ANY law or funding you just created or repealed? What if they demanded single payer healthcare or the shut the entire system down?

So NOW do you really want to do things this way?

REALLY?

Think about it for a minute people.....

by: Wi Az
October 05, 2013 9:17 PM
You have to put some of the blame on John McCain, remember McCain gave us Palin

by: Buddha Beer from: Oregon
October 05, 2013 6:56 PM
The government shutdown is bad. Contact your representative. You can find their contact info here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/#altcontact and send them a letter, call them, or email them. You can find the official record of how Representatives voted here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/index.asp though this website also has links in the voting records: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/113-2013/h505 If it is at all possible, please send a snail mail or call them- that is much more impactful than an email, but if you can’t call or snail mail, please email. The post office is still in operation, so use it. My advice is to start your letter, call, and/or email with your main point, assume it won’t be read/heard beyond the first sentence/subject line.

by: HulkSmith from: Florida
October 05, 2013 4:33 PM
8% of the population is controlling the lives of 300 million Americans, it is disgusting

by: Buddha Beer from: Oregon
October 05, 2013 2:20 PM
The government shutdown is bad. Contact your representative. You can find their contact info here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/#altcontact and send them a letter, call them, or email them. You can find the official record of how Representatives voted here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/index.asp though this website also has links in the voting records: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/113-2013/h505 If it is at all possible, please send a snail mail or call them- that is much more impactful than an email, but if you can’t call or snail mail, please email. The post office is still in operation, so use it. My advice is to start your letter, call, and/or email with your main point, assume it won’t be read/heard beyond the first sentence/subject line.
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