Reid Ribble Updates On Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Debate

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Reid Ribble Updates On Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Debate

Premiere Date: 
October 4, 2013

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, discusses the government shutdown debate in Washington.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Zac Schultz:

But first, the list of federal programs and agencies closed by the government shutdown is long and includes such notable items as the Centers for Disease Control, NASA and the National Parks. One population impacted by the shutdown are the nine million women, infants and children who depend on WIC payments to buy baby formula and food. The federal money has stopped, but the states that run the program are using contingency funds to keep making payments. In Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services is telling women to keep their appointments and continue to pick up their checks. But the Department of Administration spokesperson says they don't know how long that money will last. The key factor for that issue and many others is how long the shutdown will last. To get some answers on this issue and other shutdown concerns, we check in now with several Wisconsin congressional members, beginning with republican Representative Reid Ribble, who joins me from Washington, DC, Congressman Ribble, thanks for joining us today.

Reid Ribble:

Hey, Zac. I'm happy to be here.

Zac Schultz:

Well, there are 111,000 women in Wisconsin that rely on WIC checks to feed their infants and children, including nearly 15,000 in your district alone, and the money for that program could run out at any time. So what would you have to say to those women about the future of their checks?

Reid Ribble:

Yeah, I appreciate you asking that question. I want to put them at ease. There was a surplus in the WIC account at the end of the fiscal year, and then there was also some other emergency monies that were there to fund it. So right now, WIC is stabilized all the way through the entire month of October. By then, this immediate crisis will be over, and we should be back to normal. However, just to make sure, at about 1:00 or so this afternoon, the House of Representatives will be voting to secure WIC funding for the rest of the year, and we'll pass it on and send it over to the Senate.

Zac Schultz:

Do you expect something like that to actually pass in the Senate? They've been rejecting a lot of the ideas of doing this piecemeal.

Reid Ribble:

That's totally up to Senator Reid. That doesn't mean that we should stop doing our work to keep the government functioning.

Zac Schultz:

Now, the shutdown occurred because of some of the riders, including the continuing resolution dealing with the Affordable Care Act. You voted yes on that bill, but you've also released a statement saying it was the wrong strategy. Are those positions consistent?

Reid Ribble:

Actually, they're very consistent. Because I've always said that we need to keep the government open. As a member of Congress, I can only vote on what's immediately in front of me, and what was in front of me was a methodology with which to fund the government. And, in fact, the final compromise position we took, and we continued to compromise throughout the four key votes that funded the entire -- at one time. The final compromise position included just a simple restoration or realignment of the launch date on the individual mandate aligning it to what President Obama did by executive order with the Corporate Mandate. It didn't stop ObamaCare, didn't defund ObamaCare, it just said that if you're an individual, you're no longer required to enter the exchanges, or provide insurance until next year. And so at that point we thought, how could you oppose that. It's just simply a fairness offer to align what the president did with corporations and made it the same for the American people. But it allowed the Affordable Care Act to actually go online.

Zac Schultz:

Now, there's a small but growing list of house republicans that have said that they would support a clean continuing resolution, meaning to continue to fund government with no other strings attached. That vote has not taken place in the House. Would you vote yes if it did?

Reid Ribble:

I don't think it's even going to be an option to vote yes, so it becomes almost a moot point. What the speaker has decided to do is fund the government with a series of clean resolutions, and that's what I'm voting on. And I have voted for every single item that has been put in front of me to fund the government, and we're going to continue to do so. I can't really speculate on whether that bill would even pass or not, but I don't think it's going to come to the floor, and the speaker said it's not coming to the floor, so it becomes a moot issue.

Zac Schultz:

Now, you've been quoted in an article as being a part of a bipartisan group to find a resolution, part of which could include repealing the part of the medical device tax that's part of the Affordable Care Act. Can you give us an update on that?

Reid Ribble:

There were about 40 members of Congress that signed this letter. Half and half, pretty much split, that, hey, here's a compromise position, let's go ahead and fund the government at current levels for six months, but let's repeal the Medical Device Acts and many citizens in Wisconsin are aware we are a large producer of medical devices. We don't want it impacting jobs in Wisconsin. So Ron Kind had initiated this idea, and I joined with him to do that. We've now had some democrats that have pulled off of that letter. There's a lot of pressure right now, particularly on House democrats to not move at all, and so at this point, I don't think it's going to have a chance to move forward because it's been stopped, I believe, on their side. I did not remove my name off the letter, however.

Zac Schultz:

Now, the government shutdown isn't the last big issue facing Congress. The debt ceiling is coming up, and the president has signaled that he may want to include both issues together. Do you think this gets resolved as part of a grand bargain?

Reid Ribble:

It depends how you define grand bargain, but I do sense that these two issues are merging, that they're now coming together, which means that, and I think in a good way, it will take the discussion off of the Affordable Care Act to actual funding, and spending, and taxation in this country. And I think that we ultimately, it will be resolved at one time together. I think that that's the approach. I think that's what the president would like to see, and I believe that that's the direction that congress is going.

Zac Schultz:

We only have a few seconds left, but very quickly you said before you think this will be done by the end of October. So by Halloween, government will be back online?

Reid Ribble:

Oh, it will be online much before then. The debt limit hits roughly a week from next Thursday, so we've got less than two weeks to resolve it. I believe it will be resolved prior to that point. But we're going to continue here in the House to advance legislation to keep areas of the government funded. We'll pass those with strong bipartisan support, and we're encouraging Harry Reid to vote on it but this will not go to October 30th.

Zac Schultz:

All right. Thank you very much for your time, congressman ribble.

Reid Ribble:

Thank you, Zac. 


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