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Congressmen Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson weigh in on possible government shutdown


A partial federal government shutdown starting Tuesday is the likely outcome of this weekend’s Capitol Hill drama over federal spending and Obamacare, the Redwood Empire’s two Democratic congressmen said.

And if the core issues remain unresolved as an estimated 800,000 federal workers go on furlough and Point Reyes National Seashore closes, the shutdown could segue into a more serious scenario: a financial default by the U.S. government that could rock the stock market.

Mike Thompson; Jared Huffman

Mike Thompson; Jared Huffman

North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman of San Rafael said he thinks a shutdown of “some duration” is likely if the House and Senate fail to agree on a stopgap spending measure to cover the start of a new federal fiscal year on Tuesday.

Rep. Mike Thompson of Napa, describing himself as “the eternal optimist,” said he is “still hopeful cooler heads will prevail and a shutdown can be averted.”

But that prospect becomes “less and less likely,” he said, as conservative Republicans press their attack on President Barack Obama’s health care law.

“We are in for a very bumpy ride for the next couple of weeks,” Huffman said.

The stage for what Thompson labeled “high drama” was set Friday as the Democrat-controlled Senate approved a bill to pay for government operations through Nov. 15, stripped of Obamacare defunding measures previously approved by House Republicans.

The political ball returns to the House today, where Speaker John Boehner faces choices that range from backing the tea party-inspired campaign to thwart Obamacare to collaborating with the Democrats on a spending bill that averts the shutdown but could cost him his job.

The Republican-controlled House could opt for middle ground with a spending bill that includes a “limited repeal of Obamacare” in hopes it would be palatable to Democrats, Huffman said, attempting to handicap the other party’s actions.

But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada emphatically told House Democrats on Wednesday that the Senate would not approve any measure that “delays or defunds Obamacare,” Huffman said.

The House is expected to convene today and Sunday, while the Senate scheduled its next session for Monday afternoon, 10 hours before a shutdown would begin.

If the Senate adheres to Reid’s line, House Republicans could either fold their anti-Obamacare cards and accept the Senate bill or trigger a shutdown.

If Boehner follows a path of compromise to avert a shutdown, Huffman said, he would “almost certainly” lose his leadership post, possibly to Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor, a staunch advocate of defunding Obamacare.

“They feel like they are asserting themselves right now,” Huffman said, referring to the House tea party faction of about 80 members that appears to be taking its cues from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, the conservative firebrand who mounted a 21-hour talkathon against Obamacare this week.

If there is a shutdown at midnight Monday, it is “going to rest 100 percent with the right wing of the GOP,” Huffman said. “Everybody knows that.”

At least two polls indicate the blame would be spread around. A CBS News/New York Times Poll found that 44 percent of Americans would blame Republicans and 35 percent Obama and Democrats, while a Pew Research Center Poll had it even closer with 39 percent blaming Republicans and 36 percent faulting the Obama administration.

An overwhelming majority of 80 percent in the CBS poll said it was “not acceptable” for a president or Congress to threaten a government shutdown during budget negotiations.

The last two government shutdowns, which furloughed as many as 800,000 federal employees in 1995-96, ended up costing $1.4 billion, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis.

Most of that cost came from Congress’ decision to grant back pay to the furloughed workers, but observers say there’s no guarantee that would be repeated by the conservatives of the 113th Congress.

Mail will be delivered and air traffic control and border security would be maintained during a shutdown, Huffman said.

Social Security checks will be mailed and Medicare coverage will continue, but citizens seeking to enroll in those programs may have no one to call, he said.

North Bay government contractors, including some in Sonoma County, might lose funding, Thompson said.

Hundreds of national parks and monuments, including Point Reyes Seashore, would close, just as they did during the 1995-96 shutdown.

If Republicans don’t get what they want in the budget battle, Thompson and Huffman said, the Obamacare defunding effort will shift to the debt ceiling, which needs to be raised from the current $16.7 trillion level before Oct. 17.

Absent an agreement on the debt ceiling, the government could no longer borrow money and could eventually suspend any expenditures, including Social Security payments and wages for U.S. troops, Huffman said.

“The government would have to scramble” to meet its obligations, said Robert Eyler, a Sonoma State University economist.

The prospect of government defaults also would trigger a sharp drop in the stock market, which many analysts already believe is due for a correction, he said.

“I’ve never seen this type of willful recklessness,” Thompson, said, referring to the tea party’s embrace of brinksmanship. “They’ve pulled the pin and they’re holding the grenade.”

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

20 Responses to “Congressmen Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson weigh in on possible government shutdown”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Follower-you are wrong. I BELIEVE IN THE OCNSTITUTION. Democrats believe in the constitution. The only one that Republicans seem to focus on is amendment two and then ignore the amendments 15,19,23,26 by trying to fix the vote system across the country so that Democrats will be locked out.

    It’s the Republicans who call themselves “patriots” when they are talking about gun right but turn around and disinfranchise voters.

    The Republicans USED TO BE CONSERVATIVES, and most of them USED TO BE COMPASSIONATE TOO. They say the believe in GOD but don’t live by Jesus’s teachings. Today’s Republican party isn’t the same honorable party it once was.

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  2. Follower says:

    Mockingbird… “people are mad” because our President is determined to turn our once free nation into a cradle to grave nanny state.
    And to paraphrase Dennis Miller… their plan makes getting into the cradle a real bitch!
    I know you don’t understand. You have been brainwashed to believe that you are a victim of a constitution that isn’t fair.
    And the fact is that it’s NOT “fair”. It’s not supposed to be fair. It’s supposed to be “just”.
    The founders had wisdom enough to realize that you can’t legislate or impose “fairness” (unlike you & our current administration)

    I see this this point in our nation like a car pulling a trailer down the freeway & the trailer is whipping back & forth.
    There’s still time to correct it but we have a driver at the wheel who barely has his learners permit and a power drunk psychopath riding shotgun.

    You’re comrades have done a remarkable job of convincing each other that the T.E.A. Party is _ _ _ (blah, blah, blah)
    You’re like children playing with matches at a gas station. You have no idea what you’re in for.

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  3. Reality Check says:

    “IT’S A BUDGET VOTE. IT SHOULDN’T BE TIED TO ANYTHING. It’s never been before.”

    You are badly misinformed. There were several government shutdowns during the Carter years because Senate Democrats wanted to expend abortion benefits to Medicaid. House Democrats wouldn’t go along.

    There were several more shutdowns during Reagan’s term. House Democrats wanted to expand welfare benefits–what else–while Reagan wanted more defense spending–what else.

    There have been dozens of rider bills attached to the budget over the years, in an effort to force one policy or another on the president.

    Been there, done that. Nothing new going on here, not even the faux hysteria of the media and Democrats.

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  4. GAJ says:

    Shocked that Obamacare will save the wife and I over $9,000/year.

    The fact that it’s on the backs of the young and that subsidies do not extend to the lowest cost Bronze programs troubles me though.

    There will be have to be adjustments to make this program sustainable, obviously.

    A one payer system would have been better.

    One of the reasons we sold our business of 30 years employing several hundred people in mide 2008 was that the costs of a non single payer Health Care system would have likely bankrupted us.

    Yes, I knew Hillary was going to get elected back then, (oops), and that some kind of National Health Care system, (which I support), would be implemented in a fashion that would cut the legs out from under small business. A single payer system, preferred by the Dems I usually have issues with, would have been far better for small business.

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  5. Emerson Burkett says:

    Just for the record, I support your comments and positions on this issue 100%.
    To Some of the Rest of You,
    Contrary to what you believe; Ideology will NEVER replace Reality. It may be helpful if you wean yourself away from FAUX NEWS, Breitbart, and other FAR RIGHT PROPAGANDA outlets. Perhaps, get some sunshine and fresh air to help clear your mind. Also, may be helpful to read The Constitution. The only Legitimate way to do away with the ACA is through Legislation, not through EXTORTION!!!

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  6. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I guess you all on this post are in favor of extortion. Because that’s what the Republicans are doing. IT’S A BUDGET VOTE. IT SHOULDN’T BE TIED TO ANYTHING. It’s never been before. Under ALL THE REPUBLICANS PRESIDENTS who raised the debt ceiling multiple times NONE OF YOU WERE COMPLAINING and the Democrats didn’t whine and use extortion to get what they wanted.

    It’s just that it’s OBAMA THE SOCIALIST. There is a lot of blindness on this blog.

    On my side I believe that extortion is wrong. The Republicans just need to do their job. I hope these moronic teapartiers will all be out next year. People are mad.

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  7. Larry Watkins says:

    Harry Reid and Obama want a government shut down. No discussion, no compromise, take no prisoners. This is how dictatorships function and this is what the democrat government in Washington has become.

    The Republicans have been the party that tries to get along and accommodate. The democrats have always been the party that never is never willing to compromise.

    The democrats will pay for this in the next election and pay big time they will.

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  8. Follower says:

    The President compared Obamacare to Apple Inc. today in an attempt to discount the “issues” with the roll out.

    This is an EXCELLENT example of how this man manipulates the sheeple and why people with enough sense to realize that nobody is FORCING us to buy Apple products view him and his mindless followers with such deep disdain.

    If you have to use lies and tricks to make your point… maybe there’s something wrong with your point!

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  9. Grapevines says:

    Mockingbird (notice I didn’t transform your name?) I believe Harry Reid is coming forth with the “My way or the highway” line of thought.

    So by trying to pull this Nazi Pee-lousy line of thought by saying that it’s the terrorist republicans that are obstructing everything, your just showing us that you have been drinking too much of the Kool Aid that they are putting out.

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  10. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Grapewhines-we need to pay our bills. The constitution guarantees that we will. If we don’t and we default our interest on debts will be raised and we will have even more debt.

    It SHOULD NOT BE a Democrat/Republican prize fight.

    It’s the Republicans who are obstructing every piece of meaningful legislation in Congress and introducing all the garbage legislation to take away people’s rights-women’s rights to make their own decisions about their own bodies, voting rights all across the nation (fixing elections), trying to keep gays from getting married and on and on.

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  11. Grapevines says:

    “Lets Be Reasonable” thank you!! Your the only one who caught that!!

    And besides playing golf, campaigning everywhere, playing more golf, reading his teleprompter, and blaming everyone and everything in the world for the things he cant fix, what has he done??

    Well lets see, he does use the “I” word and all it’s derivatives (me, mine, etc) in all his speech’s about 100 or more times each!

    Did he take credit for the sequester? Because he proposed it?? NOPE!!

    Has he proposed a budget or just spent willy-nilly?? We all know the answer to that question.

    How about the “RED LINE!” Can’t cross the red line because if you do, he’ll, he’ll, he’ll do nothing!! Sic’ing John Kerry on someone is really doing nothing, lets face it.

    So what has he done?? Well there’s the Fast and Furious botch up, the GSA mess up, IRS foul up, NSA snoop up, Bengazi screw up, and the Grand Apology Tour.

    I’d say that this is a sad and low point in the history of the country.

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  12. Emerson Burkett says:

    So, Republicans in the House (aided and abetted by “Calgary” Cruz and the Dufus from Utah) are going to trash the Country and shut it down, while looking to cause us to default on our debts, because thy don’t like the ACA. Well, hello, it is the law of the land; but these jerks don’t want to take it down legally, they want it abolished,or else, they will put the Country down the crapper. The MOST STUPID political stuff that I have ever seen. DUH!

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  13. Reality Check says:


    The “public debt . . . . authorized by law” is the law that congress passes authorizing the debt limit.

    I’m in sympathy with your point that if Republicans want to cut spending, they should reduce budgetary appropriations. But, like Democrats, they want to have some things both ways.

    The solution is for voters to stop voting for stupid politicians. I’m not holding my breath.

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  14. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Grapevines – actually, you don’t have this correct. The president proposes a budget, and then BOTH the House and Senate look at it and come up with their own versions.


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  15. Lets be Reasonable says:

    From the 14th amendment to the Constitution:

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

    The congress passes spending bills, and it borrowing is then needed to pay what congress passes, then so be it. There is no reason why the debt limit needs to be increased, Treasury should just go ahead and follow the constitution and borrow the money. If congress wants to cut spending, then they should man up and create a budget that reduces spending. Period.

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  16. Reality Check says:

    When Harry Reid became Senate Majority Leader he set out to kill Yucca Mountain as the repository for nuclear waste. But he didn’t have the votes to change the law. No problem. He defunded it. Senate Democrats wouldn’t let a budget bill pass that included funding for Yucca Mountain.

    Other than from utility companies, who had been taxed about $15 billion for the project, I saw no complaints about this being an illegitimate tactic.

    Unfortunately, Republicans like to bloviate about cutting government back, but when the political pressure gets hot, as Senator Coburn predicts, “collapse like a stack of hotcakes.”

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  17. Follower says:

    This isn’t our 1st “Government Shut Down” rodeo by a long shot. It’s happened over & over again and will continue happening over & over again.

    But there is one BIG difference about this one…

    This is the last time your HEALTH CARE won’t appear on the big scary list of awful things that will happen if the Government shuts down.


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  18. Grapevines says:

    Blame the Republicans all your liberal wienies want. But the bottom line here is if the Damn-o-craptic Senate did it’s job and proposed a budget (something it’s not done in over 6 years because you can spend willy-nilly with just continuing resolutions and all) then none of this would be happening.

    So go raise up arms against the TEA Party and the Republicans all you want. The real fault rests with the Damn-Full-of-Crap’s in the Senate.

    Check your constitution and you’ll known I’m right. The Senate proposes the budget, the House passes it and sends it up to be sighed by (in this case) the golfer/teleprompter-in-chief.

    Especially if Putin tells him it’s OK to do so.

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  19. bear says:

    Could be problem here.

    Seems that a law adopted by both Houses, signed by the President and approved by the Supreme Court has become a problem.

    The patriotic thing to do would be to wait and see if it fails, then demolish it. Can’t wait for that? Great, I’ll dump my health insurance and you can pay for my healthcare. Better idea – in China if you are delivered to a hospital bleeding out, you don’t get in until you pay in advance. Should make for great TV.

    Concerned about the debt/deficit? Me, too. Here are some suggestions:

    Prosecute and convict individuals in charge of corporations that pay no taxes.

    Eliminate all off-shore tax havens and prosecute those who set them up.

    Eliminate all subsidies to big ag, big oil and all other corporations.

    Cut the Defense budget by 25% and stay away from foreign entanglements. Do you realize we have spent $6 TRILLION on nuclear weapons in my lifetime? How many do we need (7,000 at latest count) and how are they usable for defense of our nation?

    Wake up!

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  20. James Bennett says:

    Blaming those against Obamacare for a government shut down?

    These ‘cutbacks’ will be an instrument to close our parks and open space to human access, right out of the UN’s Wildland Network Plan, part of the Bio Diversity Treaty (search).

    These two globalist change agents are more than willing to lead the way.

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