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Local Politicians Behind the Government Shutdown

Cincinnati-area legislators are all up in the drama

By German Lopez · October 3rd, 2013 · Government Shutdown 2013
boehner copy"I always tipped big and everything." - Photo: Associated Press

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Butler County, didn’t want the government shutdown battle a few weeks ago. He consistently told his caucus to pass clean budget bills, likely because he knew Republicans would get the brunt of the blame if they failed to keep the government open.  

Then Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in. In a 21-hour speech in the U.S. Senate that began Sept. 24, Cruz criticized Obamacare and read Green Eggs and Ham in what was supposed to be a filibuster-like protest of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

[Find CityBeat's entire collection of Shut It Down 2013 coverage here.]

The protest got the tea party members of Boehner’s Republican caucus all hot and bothered, which pushed them to do what they had already hoped to do all along: threaten to shut down the government if Democrats don’t repeal or weaken Obamacare.

To Democrats, attaching Obamacare to budget bills is simply unacceptable. Traditionally, budget debates are supposed to focus on, well, the budget. That could entail spending levels for different government agencies, taxes and maybe finding funding for some new initiatives. But huge policy debates are typically left to separate measures.

Obamacare is already the law of the land and isn’t even hindered by a government shutdown, as proven by HealthCare.gov’s launch on Oct. 1. That, Democrats argue, means the law isn’t directly tied to the budget process and therefore shouldn’t be considered a part of the budget debate.

But Republicans hate Obamacare. They’ve all opposed it from the start, and they want to do everything they can to bring it down.

The shutdown is particularly timely because it comes on the eve of the “debt ceiling” debate.

If Congress fails to increase how much debt the nation can hold by Oct. 17, the United States would be forced to default on many of its debt obligations. Since so much of the global economy is based on U.S. Treasury securities, the default would likely send the world’s markets into immolation.

Even without the debt ceiling, the shutdown is playing a significant role in the economy. Massachusetts-based research firm IHS estimates it costs the nation about $300 million a day. In the Cincinnati metropolitan area, 22,000 federal workers, many of which are currently furloughed, make up 2.1 percent of the region’s workforce.

It’s easy to forget, but southwest Ohio and Cincinnati are actually playing a substantial role in the debate. Of course, Boehner is basically king of the House of Representatives as speaker. But local Reps. Steve Chabot and Brad Wenstrup have also supported repealing or weakening Obamacare through budget bills.

On the Senate side, Sens. Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, oppose the efforts. Portman originally voted in favor of attaching an Obamacare repeal to the budget bills, but he’s since called on his fellow Republicans to forget Obamacare and focus on reducing the deficit instead.

Just in case that’s not clear enough, here’s a rundown of all the local players, along with their contact information and, even though none of them will accept pay during the shutdown, their salaries:

Speaker John Boehner
Party: Republican
Salary: $223,500 a year
Phone: 513-779-5400
Fax: 513-779-5315
Address: 7969 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, Suite B, West Chester, Ohio 45069
Contact form: speaker.gov/contact
Public position: He's the guy who shut down the government.

Rep. Steve Chabot
Party: Republican
Salary: $174,000 a year
Phone: 513-684-2723
Fax: 513-421-8722
Address: 441 Vine Street, Rm. 3003, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Contact form: chabot.house.gov/contact
Public position: supports repealing or weakening Obamacare through budget bills.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup
Party: Republican
Salary: $174,000 a year
Phone: 513-474-7777
Fax: 513-605-1377
Address: 7954 Beechmont Ave, Suite 200, Cincinnati, Ohio 45255
Contact form: wenstrup.house.gov/contact
Public position: supports repealing or weakening Obamacare through budget bills.

Sen. Rob Portman
Party: Republican
Salary: $174,000 a year
Address: 312 Walnut St. Suite 3075 Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513-684-3265
Contact form: portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form
Public position: opposes repealing or weakening Obamacare through budget bills.

Sen. Sherrod Brown
Party: Democrat
Salary: $174,000 a year
Address: 425 Walnut St., Suite 2310, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513-684-1021
Fax: 513-684-1029
Contact form: brown.senate.gov/contact
Public position: opposes repealing or weakening Obamacare through budget bills.



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