Protesters call for end to shutdown

Posted: October 17, 2013

Some of them called Republican congressmen "crybabies." Others held signs declaring the federal government shutdown an "act of terrorism." They chanted: "Vote! Vote! Vote!"

More than 40 people gathered Tuesday outside the district office of Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) in Middletown Township, Bucks County, to urge him to vote for a bill that would end the impasse in Washington.

The protest was one of many that targeted the district offices of Republicans in the House and Senate across Pennsylvania and nationwide, blaming them for the shutdown and asking for a solution that includes raising the debt ceiling and leaving the Affordable Care Act untouched.

Fitzpatrick didn't hear the protesters' chants. He was in Washington working on a bill with fellow House Republicans that likely would not have appeased the demonstrators, because it would alter the health-care law.

In an early-afternoon news release, the congressman said he supported a solution that "chips away" at the medical-device tax that is designed to help fund health care, among other changes.

"These are the proposals that are winning the day," Fitzpatrick said in the statement. "I have supported these provisions to both avoid and resolve the budget impasse. It is time to get these done and get the government reopened."

By late afternoon, the bill had changed, focusing instead on eliminating health-care subsidies for government employees who buy insurance on the new exchanges.

Robin Stelly of the liberal group Keystone Progress led the rally in Bucks County, telling the crowd that the gathering was more than just a protest against the latest impasse in Washington.

"We're not protesting this one shutdown," she said. "We're protesting the culture in Washington that has led to shutdown after shutdown and is hurting American families."

Richard Gennetti, a representative for the American Federation of Government Employees, said Republicans had waged a class war against the middle class. He said the shutdown had turned federal workers into "indentured servants" who were waiting to get paid or go back to work.

"They want us to go back to the 19th century," he said, "and get rid of the civil service."



This article contains information from the Associated Press.

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