Longtime Democrat Rahm Emanuel had tough words today for congressional Republicans he contended have created the federal government shutdown by allowing a minority in their party to “hold the country hostage.”
Speaking at a news conference on an unrelated topic, Mayor Emanuel called on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, to abandon their party’s push to hold up funding for the federal budget by insisting on a delay to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“I’m so happy I left that city, and I think there are some people in that city who would like to follow suit,” said Emanuel, a former congressman and Obama’s first White House chief of staff, when asked about the shutdown. Emanuel then went on to blame the Congressional stalemate on Republican leaders, whose decisions he said were “wrong for the people, children, seniors and wrong for the economy.”
The mayor said the effects of the shutdown have not been as drastic in Chicago as they could be if the stalemate lingers. He vowed that the city would continue to provide its services but said if the shutdown continues for weeks, critical programs in the city will be affected.
“It’s one thing to see something after 24 hours, it’s another after two weeks,” Emanuel said. “What I mean by that is, at some point, whether it’s meals on wheels to our most vulnerable seniors, a federally-funded program administered locally. At some point, if this goes on longer – and I’m not saying it will – it will have an impact, both on the people who provide it and the people who rely on it. And it’s wrong. It’s foolish. It’s preventable.”
Emanuel said he had fielded calls by some leaders in Washington who wanted to pick his brain about living through the last government shutdown in 1995 as an adviser to President Bill Clinton. The mayor wouldn’t say who called, other than to say they all agreed the Republicans’ strategy was “wrong-headed.”
“It’s time for the Republican leaders in Congress to step up, provide leadership and tell a small minority in their party to stop trying to hold the country hostage to their ideology. It’s wrong first of all, but that said, the country should not be put at risk to try to fulfill what they’re trying to do,” Emanuel said. “The election was a referendum. Elections have consequences. The American people have spoken. The president has gotten re-elected, and he is being very reasonable about a way to move forward. They (Republicans) are being unreasonable and irresponsible and reckless.”
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