WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Congress groped its way through the first week of a government shutdown, the House in a controversial strategy passed bills to reopen national parks and other selected services.
House Republicans authored several “mini-bills” to fund popular parts of the government while other parts would remain shuttered.
Although they passed the GOP-controlled House, the bills were ignored by the Democrat-controlled Senate. Democratic leaders said Congress should not need to “cherry-pick” which parts of the bureaucracy to reopen, and called for the entire government to be restored.
At week’s end, all but “essential” services remained unavailable in a dispute over the Affordable Care Act.
In the ongoing stalemate, President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats were remaining firm against GOP efforts to tie defunding or delaying the health care law to a “continuing resolution” spending bill that operates the government. Republicans argue the health law is flawed and unpopular and will hurt the economy.
In the Republicans’ incremental strategy, a bill to reopen national parks, the Smithsonian Institution museums and other attractions passed the House 252-173.
Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said the bill was an example of “the Republicans trying to open the government back up.”
Responded Congressman Jim Moran, D-Va.: “This idea that we’ll pick and choose among federal activities, which ones are allowed to operate and what has to remain shut down, is politically bankrupt, and it’s morally bankrupt as well.”
Congress Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., voted for the bill. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., did not vote.
By similar votes the House passed ill-fated bills to fund veterans benefits and the National Institutes of Health. A bill to fund the District of Columbia passed by voice vote.
The Senate remained in “wait and see” status during the week.