Wed October 2, 2013
Fueling The Federal Shutdown: Republican Infighting
Photos of the government shutdown have not been kind to Republicans: Images of children who can’t play in parks that have been closed and of low-income children who can’t attend Head Start, the government's early education program. And then, of course, are the images of tourists squeezing between national monuments and barriers for posed shots.
That’s why U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat who represents northwestern Washington state, said, Republicans are proposing bills to reopen parts of the government – the parks and the museums, specifically.
“The Republicans figure that if they can get pictures of school kids being turned away from museums off the front pages, they’ll no longer be blamed for shutting down the government,” Larsen wrote on his Facebook page.
The government shut down at midnight on Monday, after Republican lawmakers, hoping to thwart the Affordable Care Act, refused to back a bill that would keep the government open. The public health exchanges opened as scheduled on Tuesday regardless, but 800,000 federal workers and contractors remain without work and pay until the government reopens.
Those lawmakers may come from solidly red districts, Larsen said, but some still fear a challenge from someone even more conservative.
“The lack of competitive districts in this country actually forces members of Congress in those noncompetitive districts further to their left or further to their right,” Larsen told The Record.
"What you hear from some of my Tea Party colleagues is that they’re concerned about getting challenges from their right, legitimate challenges from their right," he said, "and these guys are going as far right as you can by shutting the government down, and it’s still not enough."
Fiscal Crisis Looms
Republicans are in a tight place, struggling for power within their party, former NPR Congressional reporter Andrea Seabrook told The Record. Seabrook now runs DecodeDC, a radio show and podcast that focuses on Washington’s dysfunction.
“The party leaders are not running the show,” Seabrook said. “It’s the people who are beneath them, the factions within the Republican party that are battling each other.”
But the worst could be ahead, she said. The shutdown could trigger an international financial crisis if the debt limit, set by Congress, isn’t raised by Oct. 17, Seabrook said. Top Wall Street bankers met with President Barack Obama on Wednesday to discuss the consequences of the US defaulting on the debt.
“It would be catastrophic for the world,” Seabrook said.
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