WASHINGTON — “This is a situation that's not just volatile day by day — it's literally volatile hour by hour, minute by minute,” U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas said Saturday as he sat in his Capitol Hill office and waited for the next move in the showdown over spending and Obamacare.
Lucas, R-Cheyenne, is the only current Oklahoman in the U.S. House who was here in 1995 and 1996, when a partisan fight over the budget led to several days of a partial government shutdown.
Back then, Congress had at least passed some of the annual spending bills before the impasse, so not every department faced a shutdown. This time, if there's no resolution, all of the departments are vulnerable.
Though active duty military personnel will remain on duty and Social Security and some other checks will go out, there will be disruptions throughout federal operations.
“The bottom line is we may be headed for a shutdown on Tuesday morning just after the stroke of midnight,” Lucas said. “I hope it doesn't last long. I don't want a shutdown. I don't want to disrupt the important functions out there.
“But this is a strong battle of wills.”
Lucas and most House members spent much of Saturday waiting to continue the battle, as the Republicans who control the House insisted that they wanted to continue fighting over Obamacare on the spending bill that would keep the government open.
All five of Oklahoma's members in the House are Republicans, and though some have been skeptical for weeks about the success of tying Obamacare changes to a must-pass spending bill, they were all on board with the first effort, and they were all planning to support the second go-round.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, said, “I think the important thing to note is that we are the House of Representatives. Republicans have the majority. And we should be passing the Republican agenda out of the House of Representatives.”
Bridenstine was among the original backers of the idea to defund Obamacare through the must-pass spending bill. He has attended events with Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, and the tea party group that has been directing thousands of phone calls to lawmakers' offices.