BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
An inconvenience to some, but just another day to most.
That is how U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, described the government shutdown in a teleconference with area media on Monday.
"There will be some inconveniences out there, but the basic functions of the government will continue," Roe said.
At the time of the teleconference, the ball was in the Senate's court and the U.S. House of Representatives was waiting for a response to their latest legislation. However, Roe said he was aware that the Senate was not likely to approve the House proposal.
At that time, the House legislation included:
* a continuing resolution that would have given the federal government a budget through Dec. 15, delaying a government shutdown at least that long;
* a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare; and,
* a repeal of the Medical Device Tax that is part of how the ACA would be funded.
"We'll get something back from [the Senate]," Roe said Monday. "My suspicion is it will be a clean continuing resolution [without any other issues or changes to other bills attached.]"
Roe's prediction was correct, and the back-and-forth between the two legislative bodies continued past the midnight deadline, prompting a government shutdown today.
"[The U.S. House's] intention all along was to not shut the country down," Roe said. "We've passed numerous bills over to the Senate."
Nonetheless, the Senate disagreed, the government shutdown and the debate was scheduled to begin again this morning.
So far, Roe said that the discussion has been, "Gotcha, blame ya; shut the government down [and] score some political points. Not what's best for our country."
As that debate continues, constituents will be able to continue contacting Roe with questions and concerns -- his office will remain open, he said.
Roe also said that he spoke with the superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Dale Ditmanson, who reportedly told Roe he would furlough all but his central staff and encourage campers to leave the park within the next few days.
The House and Senate did agree on a bill to continuing paying military personnel in case of a government shutdown and essential services (such as Medicare and Social Security checks) will still go out.
The FBI and TSA will still function, but the IRS will close up shop until the government shutdown ends, he added.
Once this continuing resolution hurdle has passed, Roe said the bigger issue will come up in just a couple of weeks as Congress addresses the debt ceiling and the possibility of more spending cuts.