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U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Vanceburg) said Thursday that he intends to stand by his position on the issue of the government shutdown and the debt limit despite the fact that most of the calls he is receiving disagree with that position.
Massie, a Tea Party-supported first-term congressman, is one of a group of conservative members of the House who voted to attach a delay in the launch of the Affordable Care Act as part of the budgeting process. Because of that, the House and the Senate can’t agree on a budget strategy, which, as of last week, has shut down major portions of the government.
President Barack Obama has said that he won’t consider the rollback of the health-care law, registration for which began on Oct. 1, but he has said he would be willing to negotiate on the debt ceiling and other budget issues.
Massie said that calls he had been receiving from his constituents have been running about 60 percent against the Republican position on the budget negotiations
“I’m getting slightly more calls against the Republic position than I am for it,” he said. “That’s just from my constituents, not from people outside the district.”
Massie said that would not change his viewpoint.
“I think it’s important to maintain the position I campaigned on; I put out a platform, and I campaigned on a position ,and I need to stay consistent with that,” he said. “If I want to change something fundamental about my position, I want to do that when I run for re-election every two years, so that people will know what my new position is.”
Massie said on this issue, the feedback was conflicting.
“It’s not overwhelming one way or the other, and it depends on what’s going on that day, really,” he said. “So I’m sticking with the position I campaigned on, and that is that we have to address the long-term entitlement program. Before I’ll vote for a debt limit increase, there has to be something in there, whether it’s [House Speaker John] Boehner’s dollar-for-dollar rule, there has to be something in that debt limit extension that deals with the long-term problem.”
Massie spoke Thursday with members of the media in a conference call and offered some insights into a process that has dominated the national discussion for the past two weeks.
“This afternoon [Thursday], Speaker Boehner and twenty members of the GOP are going to go over to talk to President Obama, and I think they’re going to offer him a six-month extension on the debt limit in exchange for his willingness to negotiate with us,” Massie said.
He said that was a first step toward a potential compromise to end the political stalemate that has shut down parts of the government, which he said comes down to two main issues, as he sees it.
“One is the debt limit, and the other is the continuing resolution,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the government shuts down when you don’t raise the debt limit. It just means you can’t spend more than you take in.”
To the issue uppermost in many people’s minds, whether they would continue to receive their Social Security checks on time, Massie said that the House had addressed that matter, but he has had no response yet.
“In the House we passed a bill called the Full Faith and Credit Act,” he said. “If the Senate would agree to pass it, it would ensure that interest payments and Social Security payments are not jeopardized by reaching the debt limit. It passed the House this summer, but the senate failed to take it up.”
“So far we’ve passed ten funding bills in the House since the government shut down, and the president has signed only one of them, that’s to pay our soldiers,” Massie said. “But the other bills we’d like to see the president sign fund things like Head Start WIC [Women, Infants Children], the national parks, veterans’ programs and the National Guard and Reserves. These are all important things that people would like to see funded in spite of the current impasse. And they passed with Republican and Democratic vote [in the House of Representatives], but the Senate has refused to bring up any of those bills except for soldier’s pay.”
Massie said Thursday he fully expected some resolution soon, possibly by today (Friday).
“I believe that we are going to raise the debt limit for a short period of time in the next few days,” he said. “I anticipate that the president will sign it.”