S.C. congressmen on the government shutdown

From the op-ed pages to MSNBC

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There might have been a few South Carolina congressmen cursing a man named Mark Meadows under their breath this morning. He's the Western North Carolina Republican member of the U.S. House who CNN is calling "The man behind the government shutdown.” Too bad he had the idea first. 

Last night, congressional Republicans refused to send President Barack Obama a bill that would have continued to fund the government unless Democrats and the White House agreed to delay Obamacare for a year. That didn't happen, and at midnight the government shut down, giving a snow day to about 800,000 federal employees, shuttering national parks, ending boat tours to Fort Sumter, and so on.

Here's what some of South Carolina's congressmen had to say about the issue:

In a Sept. 30 statement, Upstate Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan said, “The President of the United States is willing to negotiate with Russia and Iran, but he refuses to work with the elected representatives of the American people to solve our country’s problems.” He added, “I have no desire to shut down the government, but make no mistake, ObamaCare will shut down America unless we act to stop it.”

In an editorial published in today's Post & Courier titled “Why the federal government shutdown is warranted,” Lowcountry GOP Rep. Mark Sanford says there's “a constitutional issue at play” that he doesn't feel has been discussed enough. It's What he calls a selective implementation of Obamacare, Sanford says, that warrants its delay.

Our Founding Fathers were very deliberate in breaking up authority and power, and accordingly, gave to each branch of government different duties and responsibilities. Congress creates, the judiciary interprets, and the executive branch administers the law. Based on that separation of powers, when a law is passed there is no executive authority to revise the law by picking and choosing which parts will be enforced. At the core, that's what has happened with Obamacare.

Sanford says there have been 17 government shutdowns over the last 36 years. “Many occurred when Democrats controlled House, Senate and presidency,” he said, and all occurred over policy differences.

Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of the Midlands, however, is less thrilled with the idea. A federal shutdown “would create such stress in families, in terms of some people being paid and employed and some people not,” he told The State newspaper in Columbia. “That’s why it should be avoided. It’s not in the interest of really anyone.”

Mick Mulvaney, who represents the sprawling congressional district under Charlotte and into the heart of South Carolina's tobacco country, including Shaw Air Force Base, appeared on MSNBC's “All In with Chris Hayes” a few hours before the shutdown occurred. “Our message has been fairly consistent, which is that we are going to try and chip away at Obamacare as part of these Continuing Resolution debates,” he said. “And that's the plan again for this evening.”

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For his part, it looks like South Carolina's lone Democratic congressman, Jim Clyburn, wasn't expecting what happened last night. During a Sept. 24 roundtable for reporters, he spoke about the possibility of a government shutdown. “It ain't gonna happen,” he said

South Carolina Democrats pounced, ripping into the delegation's GOP members.

“Today our country screeched to a halt with a reckless and unnecessary government shutdown because South Carolina's Republican representatives could not put their extremist ideology and political vendettas aside to do right by the people of our state and country," said state Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison in a statement. "This Republican shutdown will have disastrous effects on South Carolina's already struggling economy and especially hurt the people of our state."

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