I Called My Representatives Today About The Shutdown and DAYUM

A couple years ago I got a wild, wonky hair up my ass and decided to call all the congressman from my state to discuss their squabbling over the debt ceiling. Well here we are again! On Friday, I called all of VA’s congressman (again, not a woman in the bunch) and Senators (who had no one manning the phones due to the government shutdown (their words)).

For those of us who desperately miss Breaking Bad, I present several new Heisenbergs to take Walt’s place. Whether you root for them or not is up to you…

First up… Rob Wittman-R.

Me: Hi, my name is Jennifer and a I’m a constituent. I’d like to hear what you have to say about the shutdown and what you consider the next steps are to resolve it [Henceforth referred to as INTRO].
Staffer: Well, the congressman is one of about 20 Republicans in the House who have signaled support for a clean Continuing Resolution (CR). He doesn’t personally believe in enacting the Affordable Care Act [staffer’s words], but he doesn’t believe we should hold the government hostage because of it.
Me: Ok, got it. What’s next?
Staffer: The House works in  a very top down fashion. Things that come to the floor have to be approved by House leadership before they’re proposed. The push for a Clean CR – a bill without any delay in ObamaCare –  is gaining traction, but we have to wait on leadership.
Me: But the proposed CR only buys another 2-3 weeks right? Then we’re in the same place? That doesn’t really give the American people – or the markets for that matter – a vote of confidence.
Staffer: My personal opinion on this is moot, but the Congressman is disgusted with this because we have federal workers and military personnel and contractors who are affected by this.

Staffer: At the moment he disagrees with the shutdown and is trying to pass a clean CR. In fact he was the only Republican to not want to commingle the budget resolution with Obamacare in the first place.
Me: Oh, well that’s refreshing. Is he against defunding Obamacare?
Staffer: No he wants it defunded.
Me: I appreciate him not commingling it with the budget passage, but why does he want to defund it? It’s a law that has already been enacted, is favored by a majority of Americans, and has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Why does he want to defund it?
Staffer: Because he doesn’t think it’s affordable.
Me: That’s a really misleading, generalized statement. The ACA is another coverage option that’s available to Americans (especially those who are denied coverage). And – like any insurance plan – the premium depends on your age, where you live, the benefits in the plan you buy, how many plans are available in your area, etc.  AND the fee for opting out is really minimal.
Staffer: Oh! Well, I’m just going off some talking points but I’ll look into it and then update the talking points.

Bobby Scott-D

The congressman is supporting a clean CR but right now we’re at a standstill.
Me: And when do you think that will break?
Staffer: It’s tough to say.

Randy Forbes-R

The congressman is unsure when it will be resolved but is still working to defund ObamaCare.
Me: Why?
Staffer: Because he doesn’t believe it’s good for the people.
Me: But why?
Staffer: Um…
Staffer: I’ll take down that question and pass along the message.

Eric Cantor-R (House Majority Leader)

I’m not sure. They’ll be in session tomorrow (Saturday, October 5).
Me: Is the congressman and House leadership still planning on pushing the delay of ObamaCare as part of the budget passage?
Staffer: Yes.
Me: Can I ask why you’re commingling the two? The ACA has already been passed, a majority of Americans are in favor of it and it’s been upheld by the Supreme Court?
Staffer: Because ObamaCare is putting Americans out of work.
Me: No, it’s not. You guys are putting Americans out of work through this shutdown. Because you won’t pass a budget unless there is a delay of ObamaCare.
Staffer: No, companies are refusing to hire that 50th person to opt out of things like ObamaCare.
Me: Not true. Most companies – including small business – ALL small business I owners I know in fact – not only offer at least some insurance to their full-time employees because they believes it’s a right, but they also welcome Obamacare into the market as an option. The scenario you’re describing is not common, you’re just hoping you can convince people it’s common. So with all that, I ask you: why are you bundling the budget and the ACA together?
Staffer: BECAUSE. WE. CAN.
Me: Really?
Staffer: I’ll pass along your comments but I don’t have any other answer for you.

Robert Hurt-R

The Congressman has sent bills over to the Senate to provide temporary funding to agencies like FEMA, but it hasn’t gone to the floor yet.
Me: But those are temporary measures, right? For like a couple of weeks? So we’ll be right back in the same place…
Staffer: Yes, well…
Me: Where does the congressman stand on ObamaCare? Is he still in favor of delaying the implementation as part of the budget process?
Staffer: His statement is on his website…
Me: I’ve read his statement. It says he is but doesn’t give any specifics…
Staffer: Well, he would like to remove certain measures from ObamaCare that are detrimental to the American people.
Me: What are those?
Staffer: I can’t answer that but I’ll pass along your comments…

Bob Goodlatte-R

We’re waiting on House leadership but the congressman is still for defunding ObamaCare.
Me: Why?
Staffer: I don’t have an answer for you but I’ll pass along your question.
Me [in head]: Arggghhhhhhhh!

Jim Moran-D

We’re waiting on the Speaker of the House right now, but the congressman has introduced a bill to retroactively pay federal employees who are impacted by the shutdown.
Me: That’s good news! [Note: I know several people who are impacted by the shutdown].
Staffer: It has widespread support so we’re hopeful. Note: the bill unanimously passed on Saturday, 10/5. NOTE:   Moran is also pursuing a clean CR.

Morgan Griffith-R

I can’t really speak for the congressman.
Me: Can I talk to someone who can?
New Staffer: The House is passing certain things like special funding for NIH and the National Parks…
Me: Is that because of the backlash? And is he also still pushing to defund ObamaCare?
New Staffer: The Congressman does favor delaying ObamaCare, yes.
Me: Why?
New Staffer: I can’t speak specifically to that…
Me: Tremendous.

Gerry Connolly-D

The congressman is facing a lot of obstacles, but is trying to work across the aisle and is in support of a newly proposed bill to retroactively pay federal workers affected by the shutdown. The ceiling is coming soon and things are in motion, but unclear. He’d like to see a clean CR passed. He doesn’t want to piecemeal budget allowance for only certain parts of the government, he wants the whole government to be in operation.

  • wednesday thursday

    You’re at least 1 congressman short, aren’t you? Here’s a quote from Virginia’s (Richmond) Times Dispatch newspaper:

    But Cantor faces a new complication: defections by fellow Virginia Republicans.
    U.S. Reps. Scott Rigell, R-2nd, and Frank Wolf, R-10th, want a vote on a straight spending measure without provisions to delay the federal health care law.

    After days of proposals bouncing between the two chambers, the House sought a conference with the Senate, but that was rejected. Both U.S. Sens. Timothy M. Kaine and Mark R. Warner, Democrats, voted against entering negotiations. SEE http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/latest-news/virginia-s-congressional-delegation-split-on-solution/article_d4ec04ba-2aa7-11e3-aae1-001a4bcf6878.html

  • Jennifer Tress

    You’re right, Wolf isn’t on there. Thanks for pointing that out. And for reading.