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ABC’s Cokie Roberts: No Teeth in Senate Deal to End Shutdown


SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — It’s been a confusing time on Capitol Hill and a frustrating time for Americans impacted by the more than two week government shutdown.

ABC News Political Commentator Cokie Roberts has covered Congress for years now. 

Wednesday, ABC40’s Dave Madsen spoke with her in Washington about the shutdown and the bi-partisan deal out of the Senate.

Roberts explains, “We’ve gone through two weeks of just misery and affecting real human beings and their livelihoods to come up with a deal that just pushes this down the road for a couple of months. There is a provision in it that says that there should be a budget committee formed and that they should talk about big budgetary deals and report out by the middle of December. But there’s nothing that says what happens if they don’t. There’s no teeth there. And there’s a tiny little thing, I mean all of this HOO-HAH about Obamacare, the only reference about the health care bill in this deal is to say that people who are applying for subsidies should have their income verified. That’s in the bill itself, the Affordable Care Act itself, but this is somewhat more stringent. So that’s it! So all of that going on for 16 days are here’s where we are.”

An ABC News poll released Tuesday shows Republicans are bearing the brunt of blame for the ongoing budget crisis in Washington more than ever.  

A new record high of 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress are handling the ongoing dilemma.

By contrast, 53 percent of those surveyed disapprove of President Obama’s work on the budget crisis, while 61 percent disapprove of the way Democrats in Congress have handled budget talks.

And Roberts says long term, those numbers could have an impact on the Republican Party, adding, “This whole debacle as I said could really ruin it for them because the American people could be so disgusted with them that they turn on them.”

[But don’t voters tend to forget things from year to year? Do you think this time around they’ll remember what went on?]

“No I don’t. I think Republicans are worried about that, but our own polling and the history going back to the last government shutdown showed that nothing changed in the next election. In 1996, Bill Clinton was re-elected and Republicans kept control of the House and Senate. So they can look to that and hope that’s a good sign for them. but as I say, they’re in a somewhat different position now because they don’t control the Senate and are in position to do so.”

[Your dad, Hale Boggs, was a respected leader of the House and your mother followed him. What would they think about all of this?”

Roberts recalls, “Well, my mother left us very recently and she was already in some state of despair over what was going on. My father would just be mystified.”

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