Congress, N.H.’s federal delegation and the road to a government shutdown
In the days leading up to the federal government’s partial shutdown, New Hampshire’s four-woman congressional delegation generally split along party lines.
In the Republican-controlled House, Democrats including U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster opposed various GOP resolutions that sought to keep the government open while defunding or delaying the rollout of President Obama’s 2010 health care reform law.
In the Democratic-controlled Senate, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her fellow Democrats supported a “clean” continuing resolution that would keep the government open without making such policy changes. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and her fellow Republicans voted against those proposals.
But Ayotte also demonstrated some flexibility. On Friday, she and 24 other Republican senators voted to invoke cloture, allowing Senate Democrats to pass their resolution by a simple majority.
“Although I fully support defunding, repealing and replacing Obamacare, I voted for cloture – to move forward with the House bill – because I do not believe shutting down the government is an effective strategy, it simply won’t work. Obamacare would keep going and we would harm the nation,” Ayotte said at the time in a statement.
Here’s how delegation members voted as the shutdown approached.
The House voted, 230-189, to pass a continuing resolution that funds the federal government through mid-December. The resolution also defunds Obamacare.
The vote fell largely along party lines, and both Shea-Porter and Kuster cast “no” votes.
∎ Shea-Porter, statement: “This is an irresponsible political ploy. It’s time to find common ground and stop holding Congress and the American people hostage.”
∎ Kuster, letter to House leaders: “Now more than ever, Republicans and Democrats must focus on reaching a responsible compromise that will keep our government running, cut spending and protect middle class priorities.”
The Senate voted along party lines, 54-44, to strip out the anti-Obamacare provision and pass a clean continuing resolution. Shaheen was a “yes” vote, while Ayotte voted “no.”
The Senate earlier voted, 79-19, to proceed to a vote. Ayotte and a majority of Republican senators opted not to block the legislation.
∎ Shaheen, statement: “I share the frustration people in New Hampshire have with the obstructionism that has run rampant in Washington and has driven us closer and closer to a government shutdown.”
∎ Ayotte, statement: “Although I fully support defunding, repealing and replacing Obamacare, I voted for cloture – to move forward with the House bill – because I do not believe shutting down the government is an effective strategy, it simply won’t work. Obamacare would keep going and we would harm the nation.”
The House voted largely along party lines, 231-192, to pass a continuing resolution that funded the government and delayed Obamacare’s implementation by one year.
Shea-Porter and Kuster both cast “no” votes.
∎ Shea-Porter, statement: “House Republicans’ insistence on shutting down the government in order to demonstrate their opposition to the Affordable Care Act is outrageous.”
∎ Kuster, statement: “By refusing to vote on the Senate-passed bill to keep the government open, House Republicans are choosing to shut down the government – plain and simple. This is not what responsible governing looks like.”
In a series of votes that lasted into the night, both sides dug in. At midnight, with no resolution in sight, the federal government began to shut down.
∎ Shaheen, statement: “The consequences of a government shutdown are very real for families and small businesses in New Hampshire and across the country. I’m incredibly disappointed that we have come to this point that was entirely avoidable.”
∎ Ayotte, tweet: “Government shutdown absurd – hope cooler heads prevail and we reach compromise to keep (government) open.”
∎ Shea-Porter, statement: “In a reckless attempt to obstruct the new health care law and extract an ideological laundry list of demands, House Republicans have shut down the federal government.”
∎ Kuster, statement: “House Republicans’ insistence on putting partisan ideology ahead of basic common sense has forced a government shutdown that will hurt real people in real ways.”
(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)