WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, III, (D-W.Va.) spent part of his day Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2013, answering telephone calls coming into his office after having to furlough most of his staff due to the federal government shutdown.
“I apologize to the people of West Virginia and this nation for this situation,” Manchin said during a conference call with West Virginia reporters and news media. “If the public is upset, they should have a front row seat, like I do, to this ridiculous behavior.”
Manchin called the federal government shutdown unacceptable.
“I am embarrassed and ashamed of Congress and the unnecessary harm that is being inflicted on our citizens and country,” he said. “Shutting down the federal government is unacceptable. The voters sent us here to work together and fix problems, not engage in partisan fights to score cheap political points.”
For the first time in 17 years, the federal government is not open. That shutdown lasted 21 days.
“The people of West Virginia rely on their government for essential services like mine safety inspection, Head Start, small business loans and veteran’s benefits, and instead of solving problems, we continue to fight. I’ve got too many people (in West Virginia) that need the services of government. I’ve got too many people that depend on it.”
Manchin also spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, which was the second day of the closure.
Manchin said he has concerns over ObamaCare and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but these should not be reasons for a government shutdown.
“I believe there are aspects of the health care law that are important to West Virginia’s seniors, children, uninsured and those with pre-existing conditions,” Manchin explained. “I believe that today, as the exchanges open, we will see first-hand which parts of the law need to be reformed, repaired or repealed as we did with the burdensome 1099 tax reporting requirements for businesses, and I will be the first one to work with my colleagues to do so. That being said, I do not believe we should hold our government hostage while we work through the health care law.”
Health care for Americans is a serious issue, according to Manchin.
“I still believe that it should not be part of the budget negotiations that fund our government,” he said. “The real problem is that we have refused to deal with our budget crisis in a responsible manner. For too long we have kicked the can down the road from one crisis to the next. It is time that members got serious and start working towards commonsense solutions that will grow our economy and put Americans back to work. We must get our financial house in order.”
President Obama is also asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling, but Manchin said the Democrats in Congress agreed to reduce the federal spending budget by 98 billion dollars, and both the Senate and the House would pass a budget.
“Before we can even start fixing our nation’s many challenges, we first need to fund our government,” Manchin said.