Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was frustrated with House Republicans Monday afternoon, just hours before a midnight deadline to reach a deal to keep the federal government from shutting down.
“It’s terribly unfair, it’s wrong and it’s irresponsible on the part of the majority of Congress,” Moran told ARLnow.com. “The idea that you would deprive 35 million of affordable health insurance for a minimum of a year in exchange for keeping the government open for another 45 days; that’s not a real negotiation. We can’t accept that.”
Moran said the chances of a shutdown were “pretty high,” and expressed dismay that his constituents would be among the hardest hit of any district in the country.
“I think [my constituents] know that I’m doing everything I can to keep the government funded,” he said. “I feel terrible that this kind of anxiety has been put on their shoulders through no fault of their own.”
Monday afternoon, President Obama said in a press conference that he was “not resigned” to the government shutdown, even after the U.S. Senate voted 54-46 to reject the House’s measure to delay a shutdown 45 days in exchange for delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year.
Moran said he has prepared a bill with bipartisan sponsors that, if the government were to shut down, “would drop at 12:01 a.m.” to ensure federal employees furloughed by the shutdown would receive retroactive pay. While Moran expects the bill to pass the Senate, he said he’s less sure about its chances in the GOP-controlled House.
“There are a lot of Republicans who want federal employees to be punished just because they work for the government,” he said. “These are the ones who are more often than not elected on the platform that government doesn’t work. They get elected, then they go about trying to prove it.”
The last time the government shut down was for 21 days in 1995 and 1996, during which time Moran was also in Congress. He said legislators who were there “swore they were never going to let it happen again.”
“I think the American people are going to appreciate the federal government more when they find they don’t have it,” Moran said.