“I’m excited about that fight as well. I’ll take any reasonable bill to fight against a bloated,out-of-control government,” Rep. Todd Rokita,who represents the Danville and Lafayette area,said.
He said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling – an act that would prevent the nation from losing its credit rating – will end up attached to the budget bill fight. The government is projected to run out of money by mid-October,setting the stage for a vote to raise the debt ceiling.
“That’s not to say it couldn’t happen,but it’s not something I’m planning for. I think that’s a related,but separate bill I certainly intend to fight on,” Rokita said.
He said he would not accept a continuing resolution – a measure to fund the government at previous spending levels – without Senate Democrats making a move to “sit down at the table” and have a discussion.
Lauren Burke,spokeswoman for Democratic Rep. André Carson,who represents Indianapolis,said the congressman hopes the shutdown ends soon.
She said there is some uncertainty about what happens next,but that Carson’s D.C. and Indiana offices will remain open as usual,and his 14 staff members will remain at work.
But Republican Rep. Larry Bucshon,who represents the Evansville and Terre Haute area,is optimistic that the shutdown will end sooner rather than later.
He said he believes progress may have been made Tuesday in bridging the gap between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.
He said Sen. Dick Durbin,D-Ill.,put the issue of repealing the medical device tax – a 2.3 percent tax that would help fund Obamacare and a provision in the law – on the table.
“I think that’s a breakthrough because that’s a substantial change in the health-care law that would benefit Indiana particularly,and benefit the 8th District,” he said. “I think,hopefully,that might be enough to end the impasse on the funding of the government.”
Republican Susan Brooks,who represents the area north of Indianapolis,said she’s disappointed in the lack of leadership from President Barack Obama and would like to see more discussion among Senate Democrats,House Republicans and the White House.
She said her staff has been cut in half,and the majority of her satellite offices across her district have been closed. Rokita has put his staff on a rotation schedule,in which they will take scheduled days off without pay. He has canceled his outside political events and he,like Brooks,is running with half of his staff.
Brooks,Bucshon,and Republican Reps. Jackie Walorski,who represents the South Bend area,and Todd Young,who represents the Bloomington area,and possibly other Indiana congressional delegation members,asked for their pay to be withheld during the shutdown.
But Rokita said he isn’t – that asking to withhold pay sends the wrong message to voters.
“The problem I have withholding my pay or anything like that,is that sends the message that we’re not doing our job,and that I don’t deserve my pay,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly’s office was to start holding information sessions Monday in his regional offices for students interested in applying for one of the Military Service Academies. But these sessions,including one in Evansville Thursday,have been put on hold because of the shutdown.
Donnelly said in a statement shortly after midnight that the shutdown is unacceptable and that Congress must do better.
“The economy suffers,people looking for work suffer,and countless families,business owners and farmers simply seeking responsible behavior from the people they elected suffer.”
He was not available for comment Tuesday.
Reach reporter Jessica Wray at [email protected] or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.