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NH leaders parrot national blame game for shutdown

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 19. 2018 11:27PM
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, is surrounded by members of the media about possible government shutdown in the West Wing of the White House Jan. 19, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

CONCORD — Leaders of both political parties representing New Hampshire were playing the blame game Friday night, each accusing the other of leading to a federal government shutdown after a move to try and avoid one failed in a partisan, procedural vote in the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, weekend drills by the New Hampshire National Guard were called off due to the potential of a shutdown but officials stressed that guardsmen could still be called up if there was an emergency.

Earlier Friday, first-term Republican Gov. Chris Sununu had urged the state’s two senators, both Democrats, to defy their party leaders and go along with the four-week, federal spending bill that had cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

Sununu pointed out the House-passed compromise would extend for several more years the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program that was slated to expire without congressional action.

“Now is the time to put politics aside so that we can work towards a solution that gives New Hampshire’s children access to the healthcare they need, especially during their most vulnerable and formative years,” Sununu said.

“The Senate has the opportunity to reauthorize CHIP for six years — the longest reauthorization of health insurance for American children in history. I implore Senators Shaheen and Hassan to vote for today’s continuing resolution. The health insurance of 14,727 Granite State children will be impacted by your vote. Adequate military funding will be impacted by your vote.”

Sununu said Senate Democrats should not insist on immigration relief for the so-called dreamers or DACA program to be part of this short-term deal.

“DACA is a serious issue that should be addressed, but not at the expense of shutting down the federal government and jeopardizing children’s healthcare,” Sununu said.

Both Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., had signaled hours before the Friday vote that they would not support another short-term spending bill in this form.

“It’s time to stop putting off the tough decisions and give our country the security and stability we need,” Hassan said.

“Repeated continuing resolutions hurt our security and economy. We need GOP leadership to join us in working to find common ground and reach a bipartisan agreement.”

Shaheen said this was a failure of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.

“They could have gotten this done months ago if they had put their minds to it,” Shaheen told reporters Friday afternoon.

Shaheen said the House-passed bill failed on several counts.

“This is no way to run a government; it’s time to keep our promises,” Shaheen said.

The rhetoric was even more heated among the respective chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties.

GOP Chairwoman Jeanie Forrester posted a video in the party’s weekly newsletter that called out the two Democratic senators and the state’s two Democratic congresswomen for causing this breakdown, the first shutdown of any kind since 2013.

“Our military funding will be frozen putting our fighting men and women at risk,” Forrester said.

“Think about it. Our new Hampshire delegation is putting illegal immigrants ahead of our New Hampshire families.”

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said it’s Sununu who should have not bowed to the will of national GOP leaders and embraced a compromise budget.

“While our all-Democratic congressional delegation has been hard at work on a bipartisan solution, President Trump and Republicans leaders are proving they are incapable of governing despite holding all levers of power. Governor Sununu needs to stop launching partisan attacks and instead stand up to his own party and push Trump, (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell and (House Speaker Paul) Ryan to finally come to the table to negotiate in good faith.”

On Thursday, U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, both D-N.H., had voted against the four-week spending bill that cleared the House.

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