'It's time to legislate,' Young says
Rep. C.W. Bill Young said House Republicans have made their political point on Obamacare but now it's time to move on. "The politics should be over," he said in an interview Wednesday. "It's time to legislate." Young, R-Indian Shores, said he would support a "clean" stopgap spending bill, one that does not defund or delay Obamacare, so that budget conferees could begin working on larger issues. The veteran Pinellas County lawmaker joins a group of nearly 20 Republicans who say they would pass the continuing resolution with no strings attached. That would be enough to pass the measure, if all Democrats joined. But Speaker John Boehner hasn't allowed a vote and the House is pursuing a piecemeal approach. Young, who has consistently voted against the health care law, said he told Boehner, "let's get on to legislating." Asked about the pressure Boehner is under with the rise of the tea party, Young said: "He withstood the pressure for a long time. He finally has agreed to the outspoken minority of his conference. And they're pretty much in charge right now. … When you don't have the votes in your own conference, then your leadership is very difficult."
Representatives to forgo salaries
Tampa Bay Reps. Gus Bilirakis and Vern Buchanan are among at least 108 lawmakers — 56 Republicans and 52 Democrats — who have said that they plan to donate or refuse compensation earned over the course of the government shutdown, according to a tally by the Washington Post. (The count includes a few members who already donate their salary to charity). Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, posted a photo on his Facebook page late Tuesday of him signing a letter asking that his pay be withheld "for as long as the federal government is shut down." Buchanan, R-Sarasota, said in a statement: "No small business would pay someone who refuses to do their job. So why should Senators or House members be paid for failing to fulfill one of their most basic responsibilities? They shouldn't." Members of the House and Senate have earned $174,000 annually since 2009.
Shutdown brings Democrats together
Shortly before the government shut down, House Republicans crafted their final spending offer, including two health care provisions designed to scare red-state Senate Democrats facing re-election battles: one to delay the Affordable Care Act's unpopular individual mandate and another removing subsidies for lawmakers and their staffs. But the Democrats didn't budge, killing the proposal without a single defection. Their unity was so assured that Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., didn't bother to convene a private caucus meeting to discuss the measure before the vote. After a difficult summer for the party — with President Barack Obama and lawmakers deeply divided over Syria, surveillance policies and a looming Federal Reserve nomination — the budget battle that resulted in the shutdown early Tuesday has brought rare unity to the Democrats. "We're joined with the president now," said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. "This is totally irresponsible on House Republicans' part. It threatens the economy. It threatens jobs across America. We've got to make a stand, to make it clear once and for all that we are not going to be held hostage."
Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary contributed to this report.