In midday Wednesday D.C. machinations, it appears the partial government shutdown could be resolved 16 days in, and the impending reach of the nation's borrowing limit without backing to pay debts could be avoided too. The debt ceiling could be raised so that borrowing could continue into early February 2014.
Back when it came clear that the shutdown would happen, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, on Sept. 30 tweeted that "we have passed the witching hour & the world didn't come 2 an end."
Since that time, lots of federal workers have not worked, losing some income. Over those days, King wasn't sure if he was receiving pay, since he said he was fighting on principle for more accountable government and not thinking of his own finances.
In Sioux City on Sunday for a non-political event, King spoke with the Journal on how shutdown/cliff politics were playing out.
Q: Are you taking pay during the shutdown?
King: "I don’t know anybody that said that they’re not going to take pay. Here’s what it is. I am focused on resolving this issue and I have been working seven days a week to do that. Congress voted to retroactively pay federal employees that are furloughed right now. So all of this other discussion is irrelevant to the topic matter. What’s important is what we are going to do with the CR (continuing resolution funding the government). What are we going to do with the debt ceiling? That’s where my focus is.”
Q: Just to clarify, you are taking pay during the shutdown?
King: “I don’t know if I’m paid or not. I haven’t looked. I have not. And I get questions I’ve never thought about. I never thought about my own insurance. I never thought about my own pay. I’m thinking about what’s right for America.”
Of course, the main reason for the shutdown was that Republicans controlling the House wanted to fund the government beyond Sept. 30 for a new fiscal year while at the same time stripping out money to implement the 2010 federal health care reform package. That didn't fly with President Obama and Democrats controlling the Senate.
The pending shutdown deal won't remove funding for ObamaCare. Some conservatives across America won't like that Republican House Speaker John Boehner didn't stand tough.
King is one of the Republicans who wanted no compromise.
Q: Should Obamacare still be on the table in negotiations at this point?
King: “Sure it has to be on the table. That was the reason for the whole subject matter. That’s how we got here. So to take ObamaCare off the table would be to deny the very purpose for this partial shutdown that we’re in. The President has essentially said he is willing to shut down all legitimate functions of government in exchange for -- well, not even really a trade –- he says, 'I am going to have ObamaCare. No matter what happens, we’re going to have ObamaCare. If everything else collapses, I’m going to have ObamaCare.' That’s the act of a narcissist and it’s the function of as political tantrum to do that.
"Congress, the House of Representatives in particular, has the constitutional authority to start all spending and all revenue-generating bills. So spending and taxes are the House of Representatives. The founding fathers set it up that way so we could put the check on a runaway executive branch of government.”
Q: Would you say the two parties are holding each other hostage in a way?
King: “The president has said 'hostage' over and over again. From my standpoint, I made the argument right after the election in 2010, that we needed to shut off all funding to implement or enforce ObamaCare. That’s the constitutional authority we had. We won the majority of the House for that reason. Everybody that we had, the 87 freshman Republicans, all ran on the repeal of ObamaCare, shutting off the funding of ObamaCare. That’s also true of the next wave of freshman Republicans that are there.
"We held the majority. We’re strong. The public stands behind us, and we’ve got an obligation to step up to this duty. And tell me why the president cant just sign an appropriations bill that keeps everything else functioning. Why does he have to hold all of America hostage for ObamaCare when America has rejected ObamaCare?”