A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

Blunt says forcing federal shutdown over Obamacare was a mistake

In Nation

6:00 pm on Wed, 10.02.13

Updated at 12:20 pm on Thu, 10.03.13

Although he’s no fan of Obamacare, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said Wednesday that it was a mistake for House Republicans to have forced a government shutdown unless the health insurance program was repealed.

“It just simply wouldn’t work,” said Blunt, R-Mo., in a telephone conference call with reporters, noting that the shutdown began on the same day as enrollment began for the health insurance exchanges, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Roy Blunt
Roy Blunt

Blunt explained that House Republicans had “no potential of success” when it came to scuttling the health insurance program that is President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement since taking office.

Blunt added, however, that he still supported pressing the administration to delay implementation of the individual mandate for acquiring insurance, now set to go into effect in 2014.

But overall, when it comes to the shutdown, “there’s plenty of blame to go around,” he said. That included Obama, who the senator contended had failed “to lead.”

How long will the shutdown last? “If it doesn’t end in the next couple days,” Blunt said, he believes that the budget debate will become enmeshed in the looming congressional fight over the federal debt ceiling. The ceiling will be breached later this month unless it is increased.

Blunt added that he disliked the “rifle shot” approach of some House Republicans, who are seeking to pass bills reopening certain parts of government, while keeping the others closed. Blunt said he believed that such a move left out critical government operations, while perhaps funding others of less importance.

He noted, for example, that "half of the CIA is on leave," because of the shutdown, which Blunt said threatened the nation's security.

(Update) Even so, on Thursday, Blunt did support several such "rifle shot'' bills that focused on reopening specific government actions, such as museums.

“Senate Republicans don't want a government shutdown. Unfortunately, Majority Leader Reid and his Democrat colleagues who control the Senate would rather continue waging a partisan battle than restore common-sense funding for our National Guardsmen and women, veterans' services, life-saving cancer research, and national parks and museums." Blunt said in a floor speech.  "Just as Congress passed legislation to ensure our men and women in uniform receive paychecks during the shutdown, it makes sense to ensure these operations continue until Congress can reach an agreement to reopen the government." (End update)

Delegation tangles over World War II Memorial

Also on Wednesday, Blunt joined several other members of Congress – including U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and U.S. Reps. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin; Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth; and Jason Smith, R-Salem – at Washington’s World War II Memorial, where several Missouri veterans groups were gathering.

Claire McCaskill
Claire McCaskill

A partisan controversy had erupted over the memorial, which was initially closed because of the shutdown. The National Park Service has subsequently opened the Washington memorials for “First Amendment” purposes, but other events – such as weddings or meetings – can’t be held until the shutdown ends.

Without mentioning each other by name, McCaskill and the Missouri Republicans – particularly Wagner – tangled over who was to blame for memorial’s initial closure.

Ann Wagner
Ann Wagner

Wagner delivered a floor speech that said, in part, “This memorial is a monument to the spirit and sacrifice of our veterans, and yet (Senate leader) Harry Reid and the president decided to slam the door on the American people and block the House from providing benefits to our nation’s heroes and keeping our national treasures open.”

Wagner then renewed her attacks against Obamacare.

McCaskill later issued a pointed statement: “It was an honor to join several of my colleagues in welcoming and thanking Missouri veterans for their service to our country. This very special memorial properly pays tribute to those who served and fought for the freedoms we enjoy. Unfortunately, several people decided to use today to score cheap political points on the backs of veterans, which to me is disgraceful.”

McCaskill noted that she’s the daughter of a World War II veteran.

Federal workers, allies hold local protests

Back in St. Louis, furloughed federal workers and their allies participated in several protest events Wednesday afternoon.

Organizing for America held a rally on Wednesday near the Veterans Administration Building.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Beacon
Organizing for America held a rally on Wednesday near the Veterans Administration Building.

Representatives of a number of progressive groups gathered near the Veterans Administration Building downtown to decry the government shutdown.

The rally – spearheaded by Organizing for America – attracted several dozen people, some of whom waved signs that said, among other things, “Enough Already.”

“Enough is enough and enough already,” said Corey Black, who served in the Marines from 2002 to 2007. “Everybody’s got their own bills. The least they could do is figure out a budget for this government.”

Some representatives of environmental, organized labor and senior citizen advocacy organizations read off statistics about the shutdown's impact on the St. Louis area.

John Hickey of the Missouri Sierra Club noted that the shutdown meant tourists couldn’t visit the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – which includes the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse.

Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans President David R. Meinell said, “We’re all out here for the same reason – to point the finger at the Tea Party for holding our government hostage with their tactics.”

From Wednesday's rally against the federal government shutdown

“You folks know that I’m trying to choose my words wisely,” Meinell said. “And one of these days, the American public is going to wake up and spit and get their taste out of their mouth.”

At least two state legislators – state Sens. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City – were on hand to show support for the rally.

Nasheed said the shutdown will be a campaign issue. “We are going to have to get the extremists out of Congress,” she said. “While we are being impacted today, in 2016 we’re going to have so much ammunition that we will be able to take control of that House as a result of their buffoonery today.”

Furloughed members of the American Federation of Government Employees and their allies reported showing up outside the district offices of at least two members of Congress: Wagner and U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.

A representative of Shimkus’ staff met with the group at his office in Maryville, Ill. Wagner’s office in west St. Louis County was closed.

No Comments

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

More About The Beacon Home