IOWAN'S GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN QUESTIONS - CONGRESSMAN LATHAM'S ANSWERS
Many Iowans have called me over the past week with questions about the government shutdown and requesting my thoughts on the ongoing situation.
Below this note are the most common questions Iowans are asking me - and my answers to help keep you fully updated.
I continue to believe that common sense solutions can be achieved rather quickly when Washington sets aside senseless politics, partisanship and pandering, and commits to working together and listening to each other - and even more importantly - listening to the American people.
As always, I thank you for your time and feedback on this and other issues of importance to you. It is through your involvement that I am better able to represent the people of Iowa in the U.S. Congress.
IOWAN'S GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN QUESTIONS - CONGRESSMAN LATHAM'S ANSWERS:
(Read a more detailed history of government shutdowns at: http://www.gop.gov/blog/13/10/09/policy-feature-issue-history-of)
Our governing document – the U.S. Constitution – establishes a division of powers between the three branches of the federal government that gives each branch the power to decide independently what it wants to do or not do – regardless of what the other branches want to do. And, the legislative branch of our government is divided into two chambers – the House and Senate – that also are independent of each other when it comes to passing bills.
In order for any bill to be enacted into law it must be approved by a vote in both the U.S. House and Senate and then signed by the President. Even though the Senate and House had passed their own versions of a CR that would have averted a shutdown – neither chamber could agree on the other chamber’s version. So, the shutdown of government took place because the legislative process on a CR that would have continued to fund the government past September 30th never reached a successful completion.
*(Roll No. 478 - (09/20/2013), Roll No. 497 - (09/29/2013), Roll No. 498 - (09/29/2013), and Roll No. 504 - (09/30/2013))
Again, there was no vote that directed a shutdown of the government. The shutdown was triggered because the two chambers that make up the legislative branch of our government – the House and Senate – did not pass, or agree on, identical versions of a CR that would have gone to the President’s desk for his signature.
(See the full list and detail of bills at: http://latham.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=352473)
Congressional rules would not allow the Democrats’ discharge petition on their version of the CR to be brought to the House Floor for a vote before October 28th at the earliest. I never wanted a shutdown of the federal government – and I refuse to let this government shutdown continue for another 17 days. Rather than putting my hopes behind an effort that drags out the shutdown for over two more weeks, I am working to re-open the government as soon as possible.
(Read more about this at: http://blogs.rollcall.com/218/why-the-democrats-discharge-petition-wont-work/)
A continuing resolution – more commonly referred to as a “CR” – is legislation that actually funds the functions of the federal government. It is legislation that is used to “continue” funding functions if one or more of the twelve annual appropriations bills have not been signed into law by the end of the fiscal year – which is September 30th.
The debt limit is the restriction on the amount of national debt that can be issued by the U.S. Treasury. Congress has always placed restrictions on federal debt to assert its constitutional powers of the purse.
Our government is currently a divided government – the Democratic Party controls the presidency and one-half of the legislative branch – the Senate. The Republicans control the House. The ideological difference between the parties and even between the people within their own parties means that very little can be accomplished without the give and take of negotiations. This guarantees that nobody in the process will get everything they want. But if nobody is willing to negotiate then the process will be stuck from moving forward.
I have often used our own state government’s success as an example of what can be accomplished when elected officials from different ideological backgrounds sit down and talk to find common ground.
In Iowa the Republicans control the House and Governor’s office – the Democrats control the Senate.
Iowans would be pretty upset if Governor Branstad declared that he would not – or had no obligation to – negotiate with the Democrats in the state senate. And, very little would ever get accomplished.
But because Governor Branstad, Iowa House Speaker Paulsen and Senate Majority Leader Gronstal talk and negotiate to find common ground – Iowa has experienced some great legislative milestones in recent years. Because the three sat down and found common ground we have seen landmark education reform and a historic reduction in taxes among the many accomplishments that their cooperation yielded.
I know - because of the example we set in Iowa - that there is no limit to the common sense possibilities that can be quickly achieved when we set aside politics and partisanship.
It is my hope that Washington begins to show that same willingness to work together for better solutions for our great nation and her people on the issues related to the shutdown, the debt ceiling and the many other challenges we face.