A Shock to the System
ObamaCare enrollment problems continue into day three of the partial government shutdown, as online error messages, delays, and other "glitches" persist. Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kans.) explained on the House floor how he tried to enroll online for ObamaCare himself, but after encountering web errors, finally resorted to calling the hotline. After waiting an hour and forty minutes, he got through to a "young lady who told me she was from Louisiana. She said, 'Why did you call?' I said, 'I'm calling to comply with the Federal law.' She said, 'I'm not going to be able to help you with that today. My system is down, too.'" Congressman Pompeo continued, "I asked her how long she'd been working on this.' She said, 'Quite a while.'" And, "quite a while" is how long this shutdown appears likely to continue.
While Democrats refuse even to extend fairness to average Americans by delaying the individual mandate, they also refuse to negotiate on scaled down spending bills that would fund targeted federal programs and departments. On Tuesday Democrats in the House defeated three bills to fund the District of Columbia, Veterans Affairs, and the National Park Service, however, yesterday the House did pass by voice vote a bill to fund the District of Columbia, a rare bi-partisan display after the previous day's fight. Importantly, this bill continues the life-saving ban on government funding for abortion in the District, something Democrats had previously balked at supporting.
On Wednesday the House also passed a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health and the Nation's parks and monuments. Senator Reid dismissed these bipartisan attempts to keep specific government services open, and President Obama maintained his veto threats. Then, late yesterday afternoon, President Obama hosted a meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House only to tell them he would not negotiate over ObamaCare funding, or delays, or, well, anything. So the government remains shut down, and some federal workers remain furloughed.
More information has come to light on the story we reported yesterday about veterans storming the barricades at the WWII memorial. It is even worse than we originally thought. It turns out, the government spent money that supposedly they don't have, to rent fences to block open-air memorials in our nation's Capital -- at the specific direction of the White House according to a National Park Service spokesman. Judicial Watch has filed a FOIA request to get to the bottom of this offensive targeting of our nation's veterans.
The budget standoff could very well roll into the next debate, creating an even greater fiscal challenge as the country is about to max out its credit limit on October 17th. Republicans, led by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), are planning on adding key elements to any legislation increasing the debt limit, including offsets to address the deficit, meaningful entitlement reforms, and authorization for the Keystone pipeline construction.
We are told that additional measures addressing various concerns with ObamaCare are also being considered, chief among them is the need for conscience protections. We will continue to work with the House to make sure the religious liberty protections sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) will be part of any bill to raise the debt ceiling.
NRB Passes the Torch
We are pleased to learn that the National Religious Broadcasters organization has selected a long-time friend of Family Research Council, Dr. Jerry Johnson, to serve as its new President. Dr. Johnson has served as President of Criswell College in Dallas, Texas where he oversaw the operation of one of the nation's leading Christian radio stations, KCBI, a station that has aired FRC's Washington Watch programming for many years. He succeeds Dr. Frank Wright who has led NRB for the last decade in fulfilling its mission to use media platforms as a means to spread the gospel around the world, as well as defend free speech. We have never seen religious liberty under greater threat in this country, which makes NRB's mission more important than ever before. I know Dr. Johnson is the right man to build on Dr. Wright's leadership in taking on the challenges that confront Christians laboring to carry out the Great Commission. We at Family Research Council offer our thanks to Dr. Wright for his decade of service and our congratulations to Dr. Johnson with whom we look forward to working in advancing faith, family and freedom.
Spokes Are Speaking in Pennsylvania
Last week, we wrote about FRC supporter Donna Neff, who is riding her bicycle across the state of Pennsylvania in order to raise awareness for Faith, Marriage, and Family. Donna seeks to raise $10,000 for FRC, and millions of prayers. Well, on Saturday Donna embarked on her journey, and has been making steady progress throughout the week and is scheduled to finish today. One local NBC affiliate interviewed Donna about her ride.
** You may have heard reports of gun shots at the U.S. Capitol. Details are slow to emerge but reports indicate that a woman tried to ram a car through a barricade at the White House then led police on a multi-car chase that ended near the Capitol where police shot and killed her. The FRC staff who were on the Hill were not harmed. Please pray for peace in this troubled city and all involved in this situation.
*** It was with sadness today that we learned of the passing of Chuck Smith, the longtime pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. Pastor Chuck faithful ran the race and has finished his course and he leaves behind a tremendous legacy. He will be greatly missed, but I have no doubt that the ministry the Lord greatly blessed him with will continue to stand for the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.