July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Local reps voted against federal debt deal

MEDINA — Both of Medina County’s congressmen voted against legislation to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling Wednesday night.

U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, and Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, joined 142 other House Republicans in voting against the measure, arguing that the bill did not address spending in Washington.

The bill passed with the support of 87 Republicans and all 198 Democrats.

Earlier Wednesday, the Senate easily passed the legislation, 81-18, with Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, and Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, voting yes.

Gibbs and Renacci released statements late Wednesday night.

“We are beyond fortunate to live in the greatest nation in the history of the world, and I refuse to bankrupt it,” Renacci stated on his official Facebook page.

“After the President made clear that he would rather default than negotiate with the House of Representatives, Speaker (John) Boehner was left with no choice but to bring this bill to floor—and I do not fault him one bit for it.”

Renacci said he couldn’t support the bill because it did “nothing to impose needed fiscal reforms nor address the drivers of the massive debt that is crippling this nation.”

Gibbs offered similar comments in a statement from his congressional office.

In addition to standing up against “reckless spending,” he also said he came to the decision after hearing from his constituents.

“I voted against this bill after much consideration and consultation with hundreds of constituents. I was sent to Washington to represent the people of Ohio’s 7th District and they believe it is time to stop the irresponsible policies that have led us to this government shutdown and possible default.”

Gibbs’ 7th District covers the western part of Medina County and Renacci’s 16th District covers the eastern portion, including the cities of Brunswick, Medina and Wadsworth.

While Boehner and other GOP congressional leaders demanded cuts to the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — in the run-up to the shutdown, neither Renacci nor Gibbs mentioned health care in their statements.

The statements drew mixed reactions on their Facebook and Twitter sites.

Cheryl Madigan, of Wadsworth, left a comment on Renacci’s Facebook page criticizing him for collecting his pay while federal employees went without.

In a phone interview, Madigan said she doesn’t often engage in political discussions but believes the shutdown is because of, in part, a disconnect between Congress and the public it serves.

“I see so many people who have lost their job or been downsized,” she said. “So many people have a lot of debt that takes years to pay off.

“It’s not just Renacci. I think all of them seem to come from money and they don’t really understand what the majority of people are dealing with. They all have health care, so it’s not as important to them.”

Madigan, who is registered with the Medina County Board of Elections as an independent, said the shutdown was unnecessary.

“All the drama and down to the last hour stuff has to stop,” she said.

But Jim Woods, founder of Medina County Friends and Neighbors group, said his tea party-affiliated group supports Renacci and Gibbs.

Woods, of York Township, called the shutdown a political stunt by President Barack Obama.

“We’ve been into this for two weeks and the worst we’ve seen the government come up with is park rangers who were supposed to be furloughed trying to shut World War II veterans out of open air memorials,” he said. “He’s trying to maximize this game for political purposes.”

Woods dismissed predictions that breaking the debt ceiling would result in an economic crash.

“There are a lot of us who feel this is a case of Chicken Little,” he said. “If you can’t pay all your bills, then you prioritize.”

Woods also rejected political observers who suggest voters will punish Republicans in next year’s congressional elections for shutting down the government.

“I think it will make it easier for them to win re-election,” Woods said. “Obviously if they had went against their district it would make it harder, but that’s not the case.”

Medina Democratic Party Chairman John Welker disagreed.

“I don’t think they were put there to defund Obamacare,” he said. “We have 50 million people who don’t have health care, and they were on the wrong side and they have been all along.”

Welker said he wasn’t surprised by the votes of Renacci and Gibbs.

“They’re trying to protect their own positions within the party,” he said.

Welker commended Portman for voting to end the shutdown.

Portman joined 26 Republicans and 52 Democrats in the Senate in passing the bill.

In his statement, Portman said the vote was necessary to avoid defaulting on federal debts. But he called on Democrats in Congress and President Obama to work on reducing spending.

“We’ve done our part, and now he must do his to negotiate on a path forward to deal with Washington’s underlying problem of overpromising and overspending that brought our nation to this boiling point in the first place,” he said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.