U.S. Reps. Roger Williams, a freshman Republican, and Lloyd Doggett, a veteran Democrat, both live in Austin. Their districts rub up against one another on the city’s east side. But when it comes to their view of what led to the government shutdown, the possibility of a federal default, the consequences for America’s economy, and the way out of all of this, the twain just never meet.
“This is literally a Harry Reid shutdown,” said Williams, referring to the Democratic Senate majority leader who has refused to consider the piecemeal spending bills that House Republicans have sent over to keep popular and important functions of government going.
They are “gotcha bills,” said Doggett, who has voted against all of them because he thinks it’s wrong to put some people back to work and not others, and, especially now that Congress has agreed that federal workers will eventually get back pay, totally nonsensical not to simply get everyone back on the job providing the services they are being paid for. And Doggett, who was a House freshman during what he calls the “Gingrich shutdown” in 1995, says the credit for this one goes to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and the senator’s House allies.
While Williams appreciates the effort his party’s House leadership is making to hammer out a deal with the White House, he will not vote for raising the federal debt limit, even on a temporary basis, under any circumstances.
“I just won’t do it,” said Williams, who owns an automobile dealership. “The only thing I have to fall back on is my 42 years in business. I’m a job creator, and I can tell you, you can’t spend more than you can take in. I want to begin to see some real cuts.”
“Ninety percent of the calls I get are, ‘Don’t raise the debt ceiling and hold firm on the CR,’” said Williams, referring to a continuing resolution to fund government operations.
Williams said that, even if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, “We are not going to default. We have $3 trillion in cash flow, so we can pay our bills.”
Doggett thinks the prospect of a default that would have a ruinous impact on the stock market and retirement accounts is all too real.
“I think the consequences of default are sufficiently severe and troubling that any action that would push that deadline past the 17th (of October), although it could put us in the same position for Thanksgiving,” would probably get his vote, though Doggett would prefer a “clean CR,” which would simply restart the government at agreed-upon spending levels, that he said would muster every Democratic and enough Republican votes to pass.
“I can tell you I have a pretty good feel for it, and there’s not an appetite for a clean CR,” Williams said of his Texas GOP colleagues.
Williams said he doesn’t believe the consequences of the shutdown have been particularly dire.
“I think if you do a survey across America, people aren’t affected,” he said. “They are still doing business. They are going home at night. They’re still selling their products. What affected people was the administration shutting down the memorials.”
Not that he’s happy about it.
“I didn’t want the government to shut down, I didn’t get my laundry out” of the congressional laundry before it shut down, said Williams. He’s running low on shirts.
Doggett said this is the longest stretch he’s been in Washington without returning to Texas since 9/11. But, of the congressional laundry, he said, “I didn’t know there was one.”