SALT LAKE CITY — While Americans anxiously waited for Congress to act and avert a government shutdown, Utah’s delegation took a stand saying Obamacare should be delayed by one year.
That was and has been the sticking point for the government funding bill. The state’s lone democratic Congressman said while he voted in favor of the provision to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, he said it was time to stop playing party politics.
“I don’t know one Republican who would like to shut down the government, not one,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch. “I do know we’re likely to be blamed for it even though Democrats are the ones who are really shutting the government down.”
While politicians play the blame game on who is responsible, Congressman Matheson said the delay in a compromise, “It hurts our confidence in our system. This is not the way government is supposed to perform, a shut down. No one wins with a shutdown, everyone loses and I expect better of Congress than what I’ve seen.”
Matheson, along with the State’s U.S. House Representatives voted to pass the provision to delay Obamacare, as part of the funding bill. The Senate however stripped the amendment, sending it back.
“While I vote on anything I agree with from a policy perspective, from a strategy perspective I think it’s a flawed strategy and it’s going to lead to a shutdown and I’ve been calling on them to give us a vote on just the funding bill, that hasn’t happened yet in the House,” Matheson said.
Utah’s longest serving senator, Hatch, was in Congress 17 years ago when a government shutdown lasted 17 days.
“There will be a shutdown but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything in the government is shut down because money is still coming in, but it’s going to hurt everybody and where I worry is our national monuments and parks, our military — it’s going to hurt our military,” Hatch said.
Matheson said the consequences are on two levels. If anyone is a federal employee or a contractor to the federal government they go without pay, they don’t have work Tuesday morning.
In Utah that means Hill Air Force base and the troops won’t get paid.
“If you’re one of those individuals, it’s going to have a direct impact on your pocketbook starting tomorrow,” Matheson said.
In the meantime, Sen. Mike Lee called on his fellow senators to pass a bill that would guarantee active-duty Military members would get paid even if the government shut down.
“The current fight in Washington is about whether or not Congress will act to protect the American people from Obamacare,” Lee said. “Our differences on that issue should not put at risk payments to our military.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz also spoke out on the looming government shutdown.
“It is reasonable to delay Obamacare for one year. It is not ready for prime time and so many delays have already been put in place,” he said.
Congressman Chris Stewart released a statement regarding the shutdown.
“Like the American people, I want to keep the government open and operational but President Obama and the democratic senate leadership have refused to talk with us,” Stewart stated.
Congressman Rob Bishop released his last statement Sunday afternoon.
“I wish we were passing a bicameral agreed upon budget today but instead of yet another short-term continuing resolution,” Bishop stated.