Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., has a message for Republican House Speaker John Boehner: Stop appeasing Tea Party lawmakers and turn the government’s lights back on.
Boehner has said he won’t let the House vote to end the shutdown or raise the debt ceiling unless President Barack Obama agrees to scale back the Affordable Care Act.
Welch, speaking at a news conference in his Vermont office Monday, urged Boehner to bring the Senate’s budget proposal up for a vote, and, like Obama, Welch said he’s confident that enough Republicans would support the measure for it to pass.
“If the Speaker put that on, I think we’d have the government lights back on in 20 minutes,” Welch said.
Vermont’s lone representative described the Tea Party lawmakers as willing to use “nuclear tip tactics” — government shutdown and the threat of a national debt default — in the service of an impossible goal— repealing the Affordable Care Act.
But he also said the “blame game” taking place in Washington is counterproductive.
“Frankly, I don’t know that there are any good guys,” Welch said. “I think getting into the blame game doesn’t help anybody and I leave it to you to make an assessment of who’s more or less responsible.”
Welch held up Karl Rove as an example of a mainstream Republican who’s dismissed the Tea Party’s tactics during this debate. “When you have Karl Rove, among others, saying that this is a dead-end strategy — default and shutdown to try to get rid of Obamacare, that tells you there is a way out. That’s the good news here.”
Republican lawmakers are constrained by a very real political threat, Welch acknowledged — if they vote for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government, they risk losing their seats to Tea Party challengers. But speculation that Boehner would lose his speakership if he broke with the Tea Party ranks has been “overstated,” according to Welch.
Welch said that while repealing the health care law is not an option, he’s open to “making adjustments.” He didn’t cite specifics, but he said he’s been soliciting input from Vermonters, asking them, “What are your concrete suggestions of what we can do to change it?”
Implementation has been far from bump-free in Vermont — “Vermonters know we’re going to have to make significant adjustments in order to make it work,” Welch said. But, he added, “I’m confident the [Shumlin] administration is on it.”