U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy told about 20 of his constituents Saturday that even though the House sent the Senate a resolution that funds the government except Obamacare, the Senate will strip out the Obamacare provision and send it back to the House.
Once it returns to the House, “I think the votes are there,” Murphy said.
He opined that House Speaker John Boehner will find enough support for a clean continuing resolution that doesn’t defund Obamacare. But he also admitted that Boehner could put the language back in and send it back to the Senate.
“It could keep on going back and forth,” Murphy said. “It is a mystery as to what he [Boehner] will do.”
Without the resolution, the government will shut down at the end of the month.
The first term Senator, who told President Barack Obama he would be voting against a resolution giving the White House the authority to take military action in Syria, said he thinks the real debate will occur in a few weeks when Congress is asked to raise the debt ceiling.
Republicans in the House and the Senate see attempts to raise the debt ceiling as a “bargaining chip to get what they want, which is largely pretty drastic Draconian cuts to government.”
The Democrat said if he’s correct and the House ultimately approves a continuing resolution that doesn’t gut Obamacare, then the irony is that Republicans obligated more money and refused to increase the debt ceiling to pay for it.
“It’s the equivalent of going to a gas station and filling your car up with gas and refusing to put your credit card in the pump to pay for it and just driving off,” Murphy said.
In order for their support on the continuing resolution, Murphy said he fears Boehner will promise his caucus that he is going to erect a castle wall around the debt ceiling.
But President Obama is holding the line and will refuse to negotiate on raising the debt ceiling, but that doesn’t mean Republicans won’t try, Murphy said.
“I am optimistic about the continuing resolution, only because I am pessimistic that we can get the debt ceiling deal done,” he said.
But what about Obamacare? Those who attended Murphy’s meeting wanted to know if it would be delayed.
“Slim to zero that it will be delayed,” Murphy said.
One of Murphy’s Republican colleagues, Sen. Rand Paul, conceded this weekend at an event in Michigan that congressional Republicans have little chance of stopping Obamacare.
“We probably can’t defeat or get rid of Obamacare,” the Kentucky senator told the Associated Press.
Frustrated at the lack of Congressional action on anything, one of Murphy’s constituents asked when all the partisan bickering will end.
Murphy, who blamed most of the inability to get legislation passed on Tea Party Republicans in the House, said he believes “they’re a temporary phenomenon.”
“The most extreme element of the Tea Party, which is running the House of Representatives today is out of step with the Republican Party,” Murphy said. “I think we will be with this phenomenon for at least the next year until the 2014 elections. It is possible it will take another presidential election for Republicans to realize that they can’t continue to align themselves with this radical anti-government ideology, but it is going away in our lifetime.”
The crowd that showed up at Farmington High School on Saturday was much smaller than the crowds that have been attending town hall forums on Syria hosted by other members of the Connecticut delegation.
Murphy said he wasn’t able to get back to the state in time to hold a discussion on Syria, but said he heard more from his constituents about that issue than he heard on healthcare reform when he was in the U.S. House. Murphy was one of seven members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote against taking military action in Syria. Diplomatic steps taken following that vote made the use of military force unnecessary.
Less than a week after the mass shooting at the Naval yard in Washington, it seems to have “disappeared from the headlines,” Murphy said.
The Senator, who represented Newtown in the U.S. House, said that since the shooting of 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been 8,300 gun-related deaths in the United States.
“I’m worried these mass shootings have become the new normal,” Murphy said. “And unless dozens of children are killed people don’t pay attention for more than a couple of days.”
The Naval Yard shooting has revived the gun debate, but Murphy isn’t confident anything has changed since the vote in April when a majority of Senators wasn’t enough to move forward with debate on a bill to expand background checks.
Murphy said he spent last week talking to his colleagues to find out if there was a willingness to bring the bill back to the floor and what he discovered was that people “dug in” after Sandy Hook.
“I think we may need an election to happen before we can really change votes on the issue of background checks,” Murphy said.
He also admitted he may have underestimated the power of the National Rifle Association.
“I still don’t think they’re as powerful as people believe, but I still take solace in the fact that they spent millions in Senate races in 2012 and they lost 13 of them,” Murphy said. “But clearly I was not able to debunk the mythology of NRA power in Congress.”
There are also those who aren’t swayed by the NRA, but are “gun control Darwinists,” he said. “Their theory of gun control is that you should just give a whole bunch of guns to the good guys and a whole bunch of guns to bad guys and let them shoot it out.”
In order to make progress on gun-control issues, Murphy opined that advocates need to build a long-term political movement that rivals the NRA.
“We saw what happened in Newtown and we just assumed that the world had changed,” he said.