POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Rep. Runyan Hopes Lawmakers Can Discuss Ways to End Shutdown

As the federal government shutdown continues with no signs of a compromise from legislators, Congressman Jon Runyan (R-3) told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he believes Democrats and Republicans need to sit down and negotiate to come to an agreeable solution to get the government back up and running.

Runyan said members of the House have asked that the Senate and President Obama sit down and negotiate in good faith to solve the problem. “I think everybody says, all the way back to your kindergarten teacher, if you’ve got a problem you need to sit down and work it out. And that’s just not what we’re doing and it’s frustrating,” he said.

While the government shutdown has had negative consequences, Runyan said the country defaulting — which could happen with the debt ceiling deadline coming up Oct. 17 — would have more devastating effects. He pointed out that it’s not a good idea for the government to simply pay interest, as some have suggested.

“Think about the hundreds of thousands of small businesses and small contractors that you’re gonna stiff on their invoices. You’re technically defaulting on that, let alone having the government down and defaulting on paying a lot of these people. We voted in the House to give them back-pay but we still don’t have the government open,” Runyan said. “So there’s gonna be people here in the next week or two who aren’t gonna be able to make payments — whether it’s their rent, their mortgage, their car payments. So this is a default in many different ways and it’s gonna continue to grow unless something happens here in the next week.”

Runyan said over the past week, the Senate hasn’t taken up any of the bills the House has passed. “If you’re not gonna even take it up and send us back something, where are we gonna be? And that is the give and take. If you’re not gonna do it legislatively, let’s sit down at a table and have the discussion,” he said.

If the president and the Democrats don’t give up concessions on the Affordable Care Act, Runyan said there are other areas that could lead to a compromise. “You could go in there and you can get into tax reform, you can get into all kinds of things that are going to stimulate the economy and help us really get to those numbers that we’re gonna need to make sure that we pay our bills,” he said. “There’s lots of things there, but we’re never gonna get there if we never have the conversation.”

Runyan said members of both sides of the aisle are fed up with what’s happening. “No one is gonna get out of it until you sit down at the table,” he said.