Congressman Turner on Government Shutdown: Obama Needs to Come to the Table

Oct 3, 2013

Credit Openclipart/Inky2010

  Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10th) has voted with the majority of other House Republicans in favor of a 2014 budget that would defund the Affordable Care Act. Republican congressmen pushed for the bill with the knowledge the Senate and the President would reject it, and in the final days of the fiscal year, the controversy devolved into a showdown, and finally to a partial shutdown of the federal government for the first time in 17 years. As of Thursday, Oct. 3, that shutdown was still underway with no end in sight.

WYSO spoke to Rep. Turner Thursday morning.

President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have insisted they will not negotiate on Obamacare “with a gun to our head.” And House Majority Leader John Boehner has so far declined to bring a version of the budget to the floor that doesn’t defund or delay the health care reform law. The result is that around 800,000 government workers nationwide are on indefinite furlough without pay, including 8,700 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, one of the Dayton area’s major employers.

Rep. Turner, whose district encompasses Wright-Patt, has been a sharp critic of sequestration and any cuts or furloughs for military personnel. But Turner remains in the (shrinking) camp of those who will only pass a budget if it chips away at the Affordable Care Act in some way.

Rep. Turner, meanwhile, is calling for an exception to the furlough for all Wright-Patt workers. On the eve of the shutdown, President Obama signed the “Pay Our Military Act” into law; it exempts all military personnel from unpaid furloughs during a shutdown, makes an exception possible for civilians in positions determined to directly support the military. Turner and others have asked the President to use that law to get civilians back to work. But that decision is ultimately in the hands of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is reportedly investigating the legality of bringing more Department of Defense employees into the exempted or “excepted” group.

A variety of polls, including one published by CBS Thursday, show the vast majority of Americans oppose the government shutdown, and a plurality blame Republicans. And while the Affordable Care Act has been both unpopular and confusing, a Forbes poll found only a third of Americans support repealing the law.

Perhaps as a concession to the shutdown’s unpopularity, dozens of congressmen including both Ohio Senators have announced they will donate their pay while the government is closed. Rep. Turner did not give a yes or no as to whether he’ll give away his pay, only saying, “I’m here at work, and I’m here at work to make certain that we get people back to work.”