The Detroit News
Sept. 7, 2023
Birmingham ― U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and John James criticized the far sides of each political party and expressed their opposition to a potential federal government shutdown at an event Thursday in Birmingham.
Speaking to roughly 100 business leaders and other attendees during a Detroit Regional Chamber event, both Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, and James, R-Shelby Township, agreed that the extremes in both of their parties are an issue and that a possible shutdown is “the wrong way to govern,” said Dingell.
James even went so far as to refer to some in the extremes of both parties as “circus freaks,” saying lawmakers need to get the nation’s spending under control.
“So the governing’s not happening,” James said, “because it seems like the circus freaks in either extreme, in both the Democrat and Republican parties, are more concerned with fundraising off of crises than they are with actually coming together and fixing the problem. We absolutely must get our spending under control, full stop. But we should not do so at the expense of the people who are must vulnerable.”
Both Dingell and James discussed the possibility of a government shutdown, especially as a new fiscal year looms. Without congressional approval, parts of the federal government could shut down when the new budget year begins Oct. 1.
An official with the Office of Management and Budget told the Associated Press that lawmakers would very likely need to pass a temporary spending measure in September to prevent a potential partial shutdown.
James ― who could face a rematch with Democrat Carl Marlinga in 2024 after narrowly defeating him last year —mentioned a bill he introduced in the House in June that would bar pay for members of Congress during government shutdowns.
“Because these fools ― these selfish fools ― are taking hostages with American lives,” he said. “You know what happens when you shut the government down? What happens is when a veteran who’s struggling with PTSD, on his or her last legs, reaches out for help for a veteran hotline, they pick it up and they get a busy signal.”
A group of House conservatives called the House Freedom Caucus has released a list of demands for the continuing resolution.
Dingell said she believes it is “the wrong way to govern to shut the government down.”
“Look, we do have far right and far left, which are a problem, and … Speaker (Kevin) McCarthy is in a more challenging position because, as we all saw, it took a lot of votes to get him elected, and people don’t want there to be votes with Democratic votes to accomplish challenging issues,” she said.
Neither elected official directly addressed the possibility of a UAW strike, but Dingell mentioned that contracts for Detroit’s three automakers will expire next week and touched on the auto industry’s continued evolution toward electric vehicles.
“We’re in the middle of one of the biggest transitions in mobility we’ve seen since the automobile was invented and we got to make sure that we’ve got the foundation to support – I mean we all care about the environment … but we have to do it in a way that keeps our jobs here in America, has an industry that’s strong, that people can afford an electric vehicle,” she said. “A whole lot of people can’t afford them.”
She added that the U.S. has to build out the infrastructure nationally for EVs.
“I’m probably a pain in the White House’s ass right now about this, but, you know, I ask all those questions,” she said.