WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHNT) - Congressman Mo Brooks, who represents north Alabama's District 5 in the U.S. House, spoke with WHNT News 19 by phone on Monday during WHNT News 19 This Morning.
We asked him how the government shutdown would impact north Alabama, from his perspective in the nation's capital.
"A lot of it depends on what President Obama does. We've not had a shutdown for 18 years - we do have some history - there were 17 shutdowns in the decades of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s - but we've not had a shutdown during Barack Obama's term as president," said Rep. Brooks. "If he takes a very liberal, expansive view of what the phrase 'essential employee' means, it could have a very minimal effect for Redstone Arsenal and the federal government services generally. If he takes a very restrictive view of what the word 'essential' means then it could have a significant effect."
"Long term, and historically, government shutdowns have not had an effect past the immediate period of time people are not working, and on the plus side, for our federal workforce, historically, and again, even though the federal employees who are considered non-essential are not working, they still get paid," Rep. Brooks added.
Over the weekend, the U.S. House passed a bill that includes a provision for the military to get paid, even if the government shuts down.
"We've passed legislation in the past to exempt them from government shutdowns, to make sure our men and women in uniform do get paid. The Democrats in the U.S. Senate refused to bring it up for a vote. We had passed the same, or very similar legislation this past Saturday. The Senate chose not to address it yesterday - they were on break - they're coming back in today - hopefully they will address that - to me, it's unconscionable that the Senate might not bring it up for a vote," Rep. Brooks said.
WHNT News 19 also asked Rep. Brooks why the House didn't present a 'clean bill', rather, one with strings attached. If the current House version passes, the Senate, which is unlikely, President Obama has threatened to veto it because it cuts funding for the Affordable Care Act.
"That's the Democrat party line - and the mainstream news media has fostered that image," Rep. Brooks replied. "Let's be clear here. We in the House of Representatives have agreed to fund 99 percent of the federal government. The Democrats in the Senate and White House say they want to fund that 99 percent. Well then, let's do it - and then we can have that debate about the remaining one percent. So I see it the exact opposite way the Democrats describe it."
"From where I sit, the Democrats in the Senate and the White House are holding up that 99 percent because they want to coerce the House of Representatives into spending money we don't have on a socialized medicine program that the voters don't want," Rep. Brooks added. "If that's going to be the point of contention, let's go ahead and pass the other 99 percent."