SIDENOTE : It was one year ago, that John Kline and the House Republicans shutdown the government. It lasted for sixteen days. This is the third part in a series. Click here to read about October 1st activities and here to read about October 2nd.
WHY IT MATTERS : John Kline did it one year ago … and the House Republicans are passing funding bills that will expire in May 2015 … after the new Congress is in place and with enough time before the 2016 elections will be dictating policy … the tactic will once again be to threaten another shutdown … and John Kline has proven that he will support this tactic.
WCCO Good Question. “Do Members of Congress Get Paid During the Shutdown” was a hot topic one year ago … some Members made very strong statements … like Minnesota’s First District Congressman Tim Walz who said American families are caught in the middle of what he calls the reckless Tea Party government shutdown adding :
“The political games and governing by crisis attitude must end. Hardworking families are suffering because of the uncompromising, reckless attitude of a few rigid ideologues in Washington. ”
Tim Walz said his pay will go to the ECHO Food Shelf of Mankato and Rochester’s Channel One Regional Food Bank.
Others like Minnesota’s Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen wrote a letter asking that his pay be “held” …
— Rep. Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) October 2, 2013
And there was Minnesota’s Second District Congressman John Kline who did what John Kline does in most matters … he stayed silent.
Eventually, the shutdown was ended … Congress voted to pay the furloughed employees (yeah, that’s right … they shutdown the government and then paid them for not working).
It took a while, but the Washington Times contacted Members to find out what happened to the pay … yes, Tim Walz did make his donation … but Erik Paulsen was not listed as one that returned, or donated, his pay.
Fast forward to today … it’s now campaign season … and the House Republicans are setting up Appropriations bills to expire in May 2015 … yep, setting up for another shutdown.
Since this is campaign season, voters are starting to see television commercials.
Tim Walz’s first commercial strikes a familiar tone … be it a farmer, a teacher, factory worker or white collar type, the gridlock in Washington is making it harder for workers to do their job. They do not ask for salaries like CEOs, they only ask for Washington to do their job. Tim Walz reminded voters that he did not take his pay during the shutdown (and for that matter has returned to the US Treasury the salary increases that Congress has approved during his years representing the First District.)
Erik Paulsen’s first commercial avoids mentioning the GOP shutdown (or his pay) and instead discusses his work with Amy Klobuchar on sex-trafficking. Considering that Senator Klobuchar was re-elected with over 65% of the vote in 2012, name dropping a Democrat can only help sell the image as a “someone who can work across the aisle” and not the embracer of the GOP shutdown.
The legislation that Congressman Paulsen focuses on is H.R. 4980 : the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act which included Paulsen-authored legislation that would improve data and law enforcement reporting for youth who are most at-risk of exploitation from pimps and traffickers. Was this a bipartisan bill … you betcha … it was passed by the House by a voice vote and approved by unanimous consent by the Senate.
Not exactly a controversial measure … even though it was designed to require states to include safe harbor laws to protect victims. Funny thing is that is normally a States Rights issue … and no one can get John Kline to allow a vote on paddling in schools or the use of restraints in schools — as Chairman Kline believes that would violate States Rights.
As of now, John Kline has not had any television commercials … he is still being silent … it would be pure speculation to suggest that it will featuring him counting his shutdown pay, accepting checks from For-Profit schools under federal investigation, accepting “donations” from coal workers as demanded by their boss, and meeting with insurance company officials.
The November election should be a referendum on the incumbents.
Are they fighting the fight you want ?
Tim Walz’s message will no doubt be received favorably … speaking out for working families and willing to put his own pay on the line.
Erik Paulsen’s message will no doubt be received favorably and voters will send him back for another term … because he fooled them. Paulsen is following what was presented in a January 10th post — Will Sex Trafficking Save the GOP ? — when it was noted that Paulsen signature legislative agenda item — the repeal of the “onerous” 2.3% Medical Device EXCISE Tax and a reformed tax code would not happen because Speaker John Boehner rejected the tax code reform proposal and without an offset, the MDET was going nowhere. So it was January that Sex Trafficking became “cause célèbre” yet, they could not even get this non-controversial legislation approved until last month. A vote for Paulsen is a vote for more obstruction.
John Kline’s message is stay out of the limelight … to be that smiling, waving gregarious Grandpa at the local community parade … and avoid any questions. A vote for Kline is a vote for more mass mailings telling you how hard he is working for the Washington power brokers.