Pompeo: For the GOP, shutdown is now about reforming entitlement programs

10/10/2013 4:25 PM

08/08/2014 10:19 AM

A clean continuing resolution to reopen the government is dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Pompeo said Monday.

Twenty Republican House members who say they are willing to vote for a resolution to fund the government aren’t sincere, he said.

“It would not pass,” Pompeo said. “It would be fine with me if we voted on it, but the speaker (John Boehner) is not going to do that.”

The House Republican caucus is united around a single objective: meaningful entitlement reform to save America from financial collapse, he said. That means reining in federal spending, including a projected $1.3 trillion over a decade on the Affordable Care Act, he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, the Republican congressman from Wichita voiced his discomfort with the ongoing shutdown while dismissing the Oct. 17 debt ceiling deadline set by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as “not a magical date” and proclaiming that Republicans will agree to raise the debt ceiling when Democrats agree to reform Social Security, Medicare and the president’s signature health care law.

Pompeo also spoke to a lunch gathering of the Downtown Rotary Club before catching a flight back to Washington, D.C., for House votes Monday night.

He said the government has receipts coming in daily, enough to pay interest on debt while maintaining some debt payments.

So what does a deal with Democrats and the president look like to Pompeo?

“I don’t know the answer,” he said. “The basic thing for me is long-term spending reform to resist the risk of American financial collapse 10 years from now.”

Pompeo said only about 17 percent of the government is shut down. He noted that soldiers’ pay and veterans’ disability and care pension commitments will still be met.

But some key government programs, like the cancer trials at the National Institutes of Health, are on hold during the shutdown.

“The cancer trials – I watch those stories and it’s heart-breaking,” Pompeo said. “We voted to fund the NIH. The Democrats took a tough vote to vote no, because they want this in all one big basket.

“The thing is, though, there will be someone with cancer 40 years from now, with no insurance sitting home with their family and their children. If we don’t fix our spending issues, we won’t be able to open the National Institutes of Health then. We’ll be spending 107 percent of our receipts on Medicare and Social Security.”

Pompeo leveled several blasts at President Obama.

“This president is not talking,” he said. “This is what, the 17th time (for a government shutdown)? Republican or Democrat, presidents have always negotiated.”

Instead, Pompeo said, he’s “not aware” of any talks between Republicans and Democrats.

“This president needs to lead,” he said.

Pompeo acknowledged the political risk if voters ascribe the shutdown to the Republicans, with weekend polling suggesting control of the House is now in play for Democrats.

“I don’t know what the risks are,” he said. “I think that if we do our jobs well, I am confident the American people will see that, too.”

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