Politics & Government

Activists urge Tom McClintock to vote to open U.S. government

A Sacramento area cancer survivor whose potential treatment was delayed by the partial federal government shutdown joined other activists Tuesday to deliver more than 140,000 petition signatures urging a compromise to Rep. Tom McClintock’s district office in Granite Bay.

Michelle Langbehn and organizers from California Fair Share and Organizing for America-CA gathered outside the Elk Grove Republican’s office to vent about the growing collateral damage caused by the shutdown and demand lawmakers take an “up-or-down” vote to end the impasse. Patrick Stelmach, a state organizer with California Fair Share, said among those his group was speaking for were a Vietnam veteran in Auburn and a fishing guide in Yosemite.

Dozens of small businesses that rely on Yosemite National Park have been hurt by the stalemate, Stelmach said.

“We need to open up the federal government to make sure we can put people back to work that we depend on, like the U.S. Forest Service firefighters who bravely fought the Rim fire and are now working to clean it up without pay,” he said.

Langbehn, 30 of Auburn, received worldwide attention from her ultimately unfruitful struggle to seek cancer treatment from the National Institutes of Health.

“This needs to end tonight,” she said. “This needs to end right now.”

In an interview, McClintock said he appreciated Langbehn’s leadership in trying to end the impasse.

“She really has been an inspiration to a lot of people who want to see the government function as it was designed,” he said by phone from Washington.

Still, McClintock noted that House Republicans earlier this month sent the Senate a continuing resolution that reopened the National Institutes of Health. The “Research for Lifesavings Cures Act” passed 254-171. The Senate did not take up the measure, one of several piecemeal funding bills the House has passed.

“That’s been supremely frustrating,” said McClintock, a rock-ribbed conservative who has seen his share of budget battles in Washington and before that under the dome in Sacramento.

As discussions continued late Tuesday, results of a recent survey from ABC News/Washington Post echoed a pair of polls last week in concluding that Republicans in Congress were receiving more blame for the fiscal morass than their Democratic counterparts or President Barack Obama. The latest survey released Monday showed that 74 percent of respondents disapproved of how congressional Republicans were handling negotiations vs. 61 percent who disapproved of how congressional Democrats were acting during the impasse.

In recent speeches on the floor of the House, McClintock said the “October crisis” has been punctuated by increasingly obvious and disturbing developments, including the refusal of Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate to resolve their differences with the Republican-led House through compromise on a measure to end the shutdown.

McClintock said another development has been the administration’s deliberate decision to amplify public “suffering and inconvenience during this stalemate.”

“In the past, presidents have done everything they could to minimize the impacts of shutdowns; this president is going to ridiculous extremes to maximize the suffering that people must endure,” McClintock said.

For example, he said, “One park ranger told a reporter, ‘We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.’”

In another floor speech focusing on debt, McClintock said his fellow Republicans have miscalculated on two key assumptions: That Democrats would negotiate and that they would push to minimize the suffering caused by the impasse.

“Given the ruthless and vindictive way the shutdown has been handled, I now believe that this president would willfully act to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States unless the Congress acquiesces to all of his demands, at least as long as he sees political advantage in doing so,” he said on the floor. “His every statement and action is consistent with this conclusion.”