Roby: House and Senate must sit down to negotiate

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

As the government shutdown powers toward its second day, uncertainty remains.

Many state lawmakers in Washington have predicted the stalemate created between the Republican-run House and the Democratic-majority Senate could rock on for weeks if Congress fails to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

Presented as a large part of the struggle between the two government bodies is an attached idea regarding the Affordable Health Care Act.

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“The House has now voted four times to keep the government open and keep Americans from the harmful effects of ObamaCare,” said Rep. Martha Roby as she was between afternoon meetings in Washington Tuesday. “It is our position now that this is a fairness issue when it comes to the implementation of ObamaCare.”

Roby said, in her opinion, even if people agree with the policy behind the Affordable Health Care Act, the nation is not ready to implement the program. Gone is the Republican demand for a full defunding of the health care law. Instead, the House is now asking for a one-year delay in the law.

Roby explained that the House appointed representatives on Monday night in hopes the Senate would do the same. Roby said the thought behind the representatives from the House was that negotiations could begin between the two bodies to work out differences.

“This morning the Senate Democrats voted against speaking to House Republicans,” Roby said. “This is going to require the Senate to talk to the House.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) agrees with Roby.

“I call on Senator [Harry] Reid to negotiate with House Republicans and to work to spare our citizens from this train wreck,” Sessions said in a statement. “It’s time to protect the middle class. It’s time for the White House to acknowledge the bill is unworkable and that action is needed to protect the American people.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that there is nothing to negotiate.

“The government is closed because of the irrationality of what’s going on the other side of the Capitol,” Reid said.

Roby said she and her office staff are still working and all lines of communication are open – from Twitter to Facebook and emails to phone calls.

“We are taking phone calls. We are reading emails. We are answering questions,” Roby said, encouraging Alabama’s second district residents to call on her and her staff. “I just want people to know we are here to answer their questions and we are going to do all we can to get this situated as soon as possible.”

That included plans to discuss legislation aimed at reopening small slices of the federal establishment – including the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the Park Service and part of the Washington, D.C. government funded by local tax revenue.

“This is a very, very serious situation and it is one that we are all taking that way,” Roby said.

As about 800,000 federal employees and others were furloughed Tuesday, lawmakers and the president were still getting paid at a rate totaling more than $250,000 per day.

And, consumers flocked to websites Tuesday to shop for health insurance as part of an expansion of the health care law – an event House Republicans had hoped to prevent on Oct. 1.