2013 Federal Shutdown, Senator Susan Collins (Maine- R), Senator Kelly Ayotte (NH-R), Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska-R), Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (MD- D), Senator Patty Murray (WA – D), Former Atlanta mayor, US Congressman and U.S. ambassador Andrew Young, GA Congressional Delegation:
As the government shutdown dragged on, Senator Susan Collins of Maine was spending another weekend on Capitol Hill, staring at C-Span on her Senate office television as one colleague after another came to the floor to rail about the shuttered government.
Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, center, on Friday with fellow Senate Republicans, from left, Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte (back to camera), Lisa Murkowski and John McCain.
Frustrated with the lack of progress, Ms. Collins, a Republican, two Saturdays ago quickly zipped out a three-point plan that she thought both parties could live with, marched to the Senate floor and dared her colleagues to come up with something better. A few days later, two other Republican female senators eagerly signed on — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who overcame the Tea Party to win re-election in 2010, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who benefited from the Tea Party wave.
Together the three women started a bipartisan group whose negotiating framework formed the centerpiece of a tentative Senate deal nearing completion Monday to reopen the federal government and avert a disastrous default.
“Before I went to the Senate floor, no one was presenting any way out,” Ms. Collins said. “I think what our group did was pave the way, and I’m really happy about that.”
In a Senate still dominated by men, women on both sides of the partisan divide proved to be the driving forces that shaped a negotiated settlement. The three Republican women put aside threats from the right to advance the interests of their shutdown-weary states and asserted their own political independence.
“I probably will have retribution in my state,” Ms. Murkowski said. “That’s fine. That doesn’t bother me at all. If there is backlash, hey, that’s what goes on in D.C., but in the meantime there is a government that is shut down. There are people who are really hurting.”
Two powerful women on the Democratic side of the aisle — Senators Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland and Patty Murray of Washington — took a hard line and pressed their Republican counterparts to temper their demands, but they also offered crucial points of compromise.
Together, the five senators starkly showed off the increasing power of women — even those who are not on the relevant committees — as their numbers grow in the upper chamber. Of the 13 senators on a bipartisan committee who worked on the deal framework, about half were women, even though women make up only 20 percent of the Senate. Senator John McCain of Arizona joked at several points in their meetings, “The women are taking over.”
Former Atlanta mayor and U.S. ambassador Andrew Young has a generational take on the mess in Washington. From an interview with The Tennesean:
“[W]e’ve got probably the dumbest Congress we’ve had in a long time. They don’t have passports. They haven’t been anywhere. When I was in Congress, almost everybody in Congress before me had been in the Second World War or in the Korean War. They knew the world. They knew America had to give leadership to the world. We either gave leadership to the world through vision and creative, nonviolent means like education, trade, or we ended up at war. …
“They have forgotten that you’re not just responsible to your congressional district and to your re-election. If you are re-elected and let the whole world go to hell, you’re going with it. They don’t seem to see that.”
From a press release issued by Jenny Beth Martin, the Georgia co-founder of Tea Party Patriots:
“The ruling elites in Washington, D.C. have completely abandoned the American people,” said Jenny Beth Martin, National Coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. “The deal cut in the Senate does not protect the American people from this unfair and unworkable law.’
“The Senate deal is a complete sellout. Speaker Boehner and the House should stand firm and reject this deal to reign in the Executive branch’s power before it is too late,” continued Mrs. Martin. “The House ‘Leadership’ must stop playing ‘flinch’ with themselves, and instead, play hardball with the White House, the Senate, and the House. Otherwise, hard-working Americans are going to bear the burden of this unaffordable law. The American people WILL hold those responsible for this mess accountable.
From U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta:
\”I think that it\’s the best we can do right now. I hope and I pray that we have learned a lesson from this and that we will never ever again utilize the debt ceiling like this. It\’s unfair to the American people.\”
This afternoon, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, had yet to see the details of the deal. But he predicted he would not like anything blessed by the Senate and the president, though Woodall also predicted it would pass. We asked him if reliance on House Democratic votes to pass the measure would threaten the speakership of John Boehner. He replied:
\”I get zero sense of that. … What is interesting to me is, if what you want to do is let a simple majority prevail and leadership is going to play no role in dictating what happens, you can do that any day of the week. … Are folks worn out? Do they feel beaten? Did folks back home change their mind? The analysis after of why the House and Senate did something on Oct. 16 that they could have done on Sept. 30 is going to be interesting. And the question is, is it really what we would have gotten on Sept. 30 or is it worse? Did we move the needle at all on this or did we actually see the needle go in the wrong direction?\”