McKinley: Cuts are needed

WHEELING – The current government shutdown could be the first step toward more gridlock between House Republicans and Senate Democrats, as Rep. David B. McKinley indicated Wednesday any measure to raise the nation’s debt ceiling won’t pass the House without spending cuts.

McKinley, R-Wheeling, also said the House’s decision to tie passage of a federal spending bill to making “needed” changes in the Affordable Care Act was necessary to fix the bill, which he admitted is the “law of the land.”

“The real mission … is to try to correct it,” McKinley said of the health care law.

The House’s attempts to change Obamacare has led to the shutdown.

About 80 Republicans in the House and Senate are reported to have signed a letter authored by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Cashiers, N.C. suggesting the House tie amendments defunding Obamacare to bills that would fund government operations. This group of 80 is being blamed by some for the government shutdown.

McKinley said Wednesday he had heard of the letter, but had not read or signed it.

“I think it’s a distraction from what we’re doing,” he said. “Rep. Meadows is a friend, but I will not necessarily support his position.”

McKinley said House Republicans “knew full well” legislation to defund Obamacare would not pass, but they thought the measure would at least start negotiations between the House and the Senate. Instead, Senate leaders opted not to negotiate the House bill.

House members then passed another bill to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year, and it also has not been acted upon in the Senate.

Both President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have said they will not negotiate on the health care issue with House Republicans, and they also will not consider any bill to keep the government running that includes amendments.

“This is not where we wanted to be – we did not want to shut down the government,” McKinley said. “Anyone who would suggest otherwise is just playing politics.

“We have 800,000 people now who have been furloughed. That’s painful for those families, and not what they anticipated. Now we’ve got to find a way to find an end game. … I don’t like it, but we’re here now. We’ve got to find our way back through it.”

McKinley also said House Speaker John Boehner likely won’t bring a debt ceiling vote to the floor without spending reductions.

“If we don’t get some kind of spending reduction … I don’t think it will pass the House,” said McKinley. “John Boehner will not bring it up unless there is something attached to it.”

McKinley listed a number of Democrats among his friends in Congress. Among them are Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Diana DeGette of Colorado and Bobby Rush of Illinois.