By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would provid funding for important government operations, keeping national parks and museums open, and fund cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lessening the affects of the federal government shutdown. President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have indicated that they will not move forward on a partial funding of the government and will not advance any of this legislation in the Democrat controlled U.S. Senate.
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery issued a statement in response. Rep. Roby said, “I’m baffled as to why President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would balk at these and other non-controversial funding bills.”
Rep. Roby said. “If the President and the Senate would support a standalone military funding bill, why not one for our veterans? Why not our National Guardsmen and Reservists? Why not for our National Park System? Why not for cancer research? Yesterday we couldn’t get Democrats to negotiate over what we disagree on. Today we can’t get them to even consider what we do agree on. I hope they’ll reconsider and come to the table.”
The conservative Congresswoman said, “Everyone knows Republicans and Democrats don’t see eye to eye on every spending issue. However, there is a lot we do agree on, like funding for critical cancer research and the national parks. That’s I was proud to support these bi-partisan bills. And we’ll continue to work to find additional common ground on issues like veterans services and making sure our national guardsmen and reservists are paid.”
Rep. Roby concluded, “I hope the Senate will do the right thing and act on these House appropriations bills as soon as possible. Let’s move forward on what we easily agree on, and not let our differences over more controversial issues block funding for these other government priorities.”
The three bills: H.J.Res 70, the Open Our National Parks and Museum Act would fund the the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Museum; H.J.Res. 71, the Provide Local Funding for DC would allow the District of Columbia to spend its local funds as proposed in its most recent budget; and the H.J. Res. 73, the Research for Lifesaving Cures bill, would provide funding for programs with the National Institutes of Health.
If passed these bills would provide funding through December 15, 2013.
There was an incident on Tuesday at the World War II memorial where the National Park Service refused a group of World War II veterans (including several from Alabama) access to the memorial due to the shutdown. While a group of congressmen, including Rep. Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia distracted the Park Service Guards, the aging veterans removed the barricades and held their memorial service anyway in defiance of threats of arrest from the Parks Service guards.
The House is also considering bills restoring funding for veterans’ services and National Guard and Reserve pay which could pass as soon as Thursday.
The government shut down on Monday because the House and the Senate could not agree on a Continuing Resolution (CR). The Republican controlled House passed a series of CRs first stripping funding for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare) and later simply delaying the individual mandate and repealing the medical device tax associated with the unpopular legislation.
The Democratic controlled U.S. Senate passed a CR removing those provisions. President Obama has bypassed the whole budget process throughout his Presidency through a series of CRs which have kept the government funded but have severely limited the Congresses ability to set spending priorities for the country.
Representative Roby is in her second term in the Congress and represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.