POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Sen. Menendez Calls Republican Action for Shutdown ‘Unacceptable’

With the government shutdown a reality, Sen. Bob Menendez told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he hopes Republicans in the House of Representatives “come to their senses” and realize they shouldn’t shut down the government to get a desired policy result.

“I think they need to come to the conclusion that their efforts to overturn the president’s health care, which was passed by the Congress, signed by the president, reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States and reaffirmed after that by the American people and the reelection of the president is the final verdict on that issue,” Menendez said. “And so I hope they get back to governing, which is keeping the government open.”

Menendez said what the Republicans are doing is equivalent to “holding a gun to your head and saying, ‘I’ll shut down the government if you don’t give me what I want.'”

He explained that the Senate Democrats passed a budget six months ago and went to the Senate floor 18 times to get a conference with the House of Representatives to work out differences on the budget. “And 18 times on the Senate floor, we have been rejected by Senate Republicans to move forward to that conference,” Menendez said. “So if you reject the efforts for a conference, which is a negotiation, then your tactic is pretty well revealed. They don’t want compromise, they want capitulation.”

A vote on the debt ceiling is set for a few weeks down the road, which some have said could cause another battle among legislators. But Menendez hopes it won’t be the same since the debt ceiling deals with the government paying for obligations already incurred and approved by the Congress and the president.

“Ronald Reagan did it about a dozen times, George Bush did it eight times. There was never any conditions for raising the debt ceiling. Under those years they were voted in an up or down vote. No negotiations, no conditions, no capitulations. Now why all of a sudden do the Republicans feel that it’s OK to ruin the nation’s credit and to ultimately default which has enormous consequences to our economy as a vehicle to hold the president hostage to what they want? It’s not acceptable,” Menendez said. “And there should be no moral equivalency to their tactics and the underlying responsibility to keep the government open and to pay its bills.”