Fitzpatrick, other U.S. lawmakers back plan they say will end shutdown

    Three Philadelphia-area Republican congressmen have endorsed a new plan they say has bipartisan support and  can end the government shutdown. U.S. Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick, Pat Meehan and Jim Gerlach were among about 20 lawmakers who held a news conference Thursday morning in Washington to present the plan.

    It calls for extending government spending for six months while repealing the new tax on medical devices that’s part of the Affordable Care Act.

    Those at the news conference said the idea had bipartisan support, noting the backing of Wisconsin Democrat Ron Kin. 

    Fitzpatrick of Bucks County held a conference call with reporters to say the proposal has ideas that hardliners from both parties will dislike.

    “The radical right and radical left have had their say. I represent the radical middle,” Fitzpatrick said. “And this is a proposal which has support from both parties, and I’ve worked with both parties and it’s a clear way forward that reopens the doors of government.”

    You can read more about the initiative in this piece by the Allentown Morning Call’s capable Washington reporter Colby Itkowitz.

    “If this were to go onto the floor tomorrow or Saturday, I think it would pass,” Fitzpatrick said. “And it would be a stronger bipartisan vote than anything you’ve seen so far.”

     Of course, there’s no sign that the House Republican leadership has any intention of letting the idea get to a vote, and Senate Democrats have summarily rejected the idea.

    Reading the leaves

    What are we to make of this?

    First, this and the comments of suburban Republicans earlier this week that they’d vote for a “clean” government funding measure are clear indications that the government shutdown makes them nervous.

    No one knows how it will play out, but when a Republican-led Congress did this in 1995, the GOP paid a heavy price in popular outrage and revived the fortunes of a struggling Democratic president.

    Washington is a town where anybody can call a news conference and say they have a plan. Even if it leads to nothing, they can always say come election time say that if the Congress or the president had followed their lead, things would be different.

    It does strike me that the Pennsylvania Republicans casting themselves as independent unifying voices now would have more credibility if they actually cast a vote in defiance of their Republican leaders. I’m not saying they aren’t sincere. It’s just hard to know what it really means if you say you want a different course, then vote as your leaders instruct to stay on the same one.

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