NC congressmen on front lines of impasse fight

Posted October 16, 2013

— As the U.S. House's Republican caucus clashes over the vote to raise the debt ceiling, North Carolina’s delegation is in the national spotlight on the front lines of the battle.

The standoff that led to the federal shutdown officially began with a letter written by 11th District Congressman Rep. Mark Meadows. His letter urged House Speaker John Boehner not to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open unless it included language to de-fund the Affordable Care Act.

Among the 80 Congress members who signed the letter, dubbed the “Suicide Caucus” by conservative Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer,  were five out of the nine Republicans in North Carolina's House delegation – Meadows, 13th District Congressman George Holding, 8th District Congressman Richard Hudson, 6th District Congressman Howard Coble and 3rd District Congressman Walter Jones.

That puts North Carolina in a tie with Michigan for the state with the second-most signatories to the Meadows letter. Texas was in first place, with 11 of its 24 Republican House members signing on.

In addition, Holding, Hudson, Jones and Meadows also signed on to co-sponsor the “Graves bill,” the House legislation linking the continuing resolution to the de-funding of the health care law.

Asked in July about linking the two, North Carolina’s Republican Senator Richard Burr called it “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” He followed up Wednesday, telling The New York Times the strategy has been a failure.

“Let’s just say sometimes learning what can’t be accomplished is an important long-term thing,” Burr told the newspaper, “and hopefully, for some of the members, they’ve learned it’s impossible to de-fund mandatory programs by shutting down the federal government.”

Asked for a response, the North Carolina Republican Party attacked Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan instead. The GOP is hoping to take her seat in 2014. 

"During the shutdown, Kay Hagan has refused to work across the aisle to broker a compromise, instead spending her time holding ritzy fundraisers with lobbyists in Washington,” N.C. GOP director Todd Poole said in a statement. “Given countless opportunities to support commonsense proposals supported by Republicans and moderate Democrats to keep paying our veterans and reopen national parks during the shutdown, Kay Hagan has sided with (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid over hard-working North Carolinians."

Hagan, it should be noted, was opposed to the shutdown, as was Burr, and while the Senate managed to come up with a bipartisan plan Wednesday, the House Republican majority was unable to do so.

In the meantime, the shutdown has had an outsized effect on North Carolina, thanks to the high number of federal workers – Defense Department employees and contractors working at the state’s military bases and in Research Triangle Park. Thousands of those workers have been furloughed since Oct. 1.

The impasse has taken a toll on the state’s safety net programs, too. The federally funded Work First welfare program has been shuttered. Childcare subsidies for low-income families are being suspended in at least one-third of the state’s counties. Food aid to families with infants and young children was temporarily shut down, then reopened. Job training for displaced employees and people with disabilities has been suspended.

Still, William Peace University political science professor David McLennan said he doesn’t expect North Carolina’s five signatories in the House to pay a political price next November for backing the shutdown.

“That’s a long time for people to forget, particularly because cliffhangers have become part of our political culture. People think it’s just politics as usual,” said McLennan. “If we get past this, there’s no debt ceiling breach, and the economy comes back. A lot of this will be forgotten.”

While Meadows’ and Hudson’s western districts are less affected by the shutdown, he said, “For someone like Jones, it’s a much more risky proposition, because all the military employees in his district are feeling it on a daily basis.”

Holding, too, is taking a risk, McLennan added, “because his district does touch on the Triangle, and the Triangle’s not as ‘tea party’ as other parts of the state.”

But, he says, the new congressional districts were redrawn in such a way that most of the signatories could lose 10 percent of their support without losing their seats – and that may be why they’re playing a more prominent role in the House GOP’s feud.

“I think it shows what’s happened in the last two election cycles in North Carolina,” McLennan said. “Not only has the congressional delegation changed, but the Republican Party has changed. These are tea party-supported folks. That’s how they ran, and that’s how they’re going to vote. This is not the traditional Democrat-Republican state of 10 years ago.”


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  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Oct 22, 2013

    From a CNN article today on the disconnect between big business and the Tea Party wing of the Republican party:

    "The economic impact of America's biggest companies is undeniable: If the Fortune 500 were a country's GDP, it'd be the 2nd-largest economy on earth. Yet Tea Party Republicans representing largely rural districts sound proud not to be acquainted with those companies' leaders...Tom Donohue, top lobbyist in Washington and president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged he doesn't even know Cruz."

    "The [shutdown and debt default] averted, CEO's are beginning to consider investing in primary challenges to the most hardcore ideologues in Congress."

    If big business hates the Tea Party, ARE THEY GOING TO BRING JOBS to a North Carolina controlled by Tea Partiers like Berger, Tillis, McCrory, Pope and five NC congressmen (including Raleigh's Howard Coble) who signed the "suicide pact" favoring a debt default?

  • Sally1023 Oct 20, 2013

    Danny22, you sure have drank the kool aid. When you get on a plane, or go to a federal park, or receive cutting edge medical treatment or drive on our interstate highways, have children being taught in public schools or want to know where the next hurricane is coming your way or expect to eat clean and safe food or want to feel safe from terrorist or want to buy a house or expect to receive Medicare and social security, you are partaking in the benifits provided by the US government,aka socialism/communism. Grow up and use the brain God gave you! Oh and by the way, I bet you were tickled pink when the US invaded Iraq...that did cause the American tax payers anything. The war was paid for by ALL the oil Iraq has, but know who got most of the oil contracts? China.

  • tgiv Oct 19, 2013

    We've reached the level of lunacy in this country. If you oppose the ACA, then elect enough Congressmen and a President to rescind it. Holding the nation hostage and trying to blackmail your way through defunding legislation that you can't defeat is a recipe for disaster. If this sleazy tactic is embraced and practiced regularly, we will destroy whatever is left of the credibility we have.

    Nobody gets their way every time with our form of government. Those who are unwilling to place the good of the nation ahead of their political goals are as much a part of our problem as any incompetent politician in Washington or Raleigh.

  • Danny22 Oct 18, 2013

    Thanks to the congressmen who stood against borrowing and printing more money. I only wish Mike McIntyre would have helped to fight against the socialism/communism that is infesting our great country. Obama just added another trillion to our debt and not many people understand or care.

  • familyandamerica Oct 18, 2013

    "That Richard Burr is seen as a "moderate" or a RINO is a really sad commentary on the state of affairs, given that he voted against holding a gun to the head of the world economy." kdogwnc

    I agree completely. I disagree with Burr on many issues but he represents the country and the Republican party vastly better than the Suicide Caucus of reactionary regressives of which NC had far too many members during the shutdown. Hagan is not without faults either, but she and Burr did the right thing in standing against the unpatriotic behavior of people like Renee Elmers and Mark Meadows.

  • wildpig777 Oct 18, 2013

    Register and vote as an independent and help take back our country.

    Click to view my profile Rebelyell55

    that sounds like something I would say, oh wait I have said that many times. nc is so polarized however our citizens, black/white/ illegal Mexicans--- liberal/conservative/ any ole way the wind blows are all so BRAINWASHED they will stubbornly cling to antiquated beliefs and vote as they are told to. young /old rural or urban -- makes no difference--- we have a mindset in nc that generally boils down to im a repub or im a demo and I aint changing.....

  • doctorgraves71 Oct 18, 2013

    If anyone thinks it's ok not to pay your bills, stop paying yours and see what happens. A lot of repubs are gonna be outta office in a few years because of this..

  • kdogwnc Oct 17, 2013

    That Richard Burr is seen as a "moderate" or a RINO is a really sad commentary on the state of affairs, given that he voted against holding a gun to the head of the world economy.

  • cringercat1862 Oct 17, 2013

    I sent George Holding an email asking him not to capitulate to the Democrats, and he did. I hope he runs against Kay Hagan in 2 years. Richard Burr took his email link down from his website and sided with Harry Reid. I wont vote for Burr again.

  • baldchip Oct 17, 2013

    Free2bme-The GOP learned about gerrymandering from the best in the business-the DemocRATS!! I am not surprised about you belly aching! Seems like you DemocRATS were mighty quiet about it when you had the votes. In other words, TAKE YOUR MEDICINE FRIEND!!

    WE must figure out how to work some kind of compromise, or we will be here in 3 months again. With an arrogant president who thinks he does not have to compromise 1", well-we have work to do!! Our government is like a bloated whale with way too much of everything. Cutting Congressional expenses might be a good place to start. After all, leadership begins with doing to oneself!! (I'll bet Dirty Harry and Nancy (bi...) Pelowsi won't give up $1 of their benefits)

    I have reconciled that I will not vote for any current members of Congress or the Senate in 2014-NONE!!