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October 2, 2013

Owens: GOP needs to resolve government shutdown

PLATTSBURGH — North Country Congressman Bill Owens says the government shutdown will not be avoided if Republicans can’t get their own house together to make a deal.

“There is no one on the Republican side that can deliver the votes and get a deal done,” Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh, said in a telephone news conference Tuesday.

“But Democrats have to step up to the plate, too.”

NO REPLACEMENT

Owens said Republican leadership is being impacted by a small group of their own members who absolutely want to squash the Affordable Health Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Their insistence makes if difficult for Speaker of the House John Boehner to work toward a deal to avoid a government shutdown, Owens said.

“The position our friends on the other side have taken is not an exercise in making it (Obamacare) better; it’s an exercise in taking it out,” Owens said, adding that opponents have not offered any legislation to replace the health-care law.

FORT DRUM FURLOUGHS

The biggest impact the shutdown will have in Owens’s 21 District, which covers 12 counties from Lake Ontario in the west to Lake Champlain in the east, will be at Fort Drum.

The Army base in Watertown is home to about 800 civilian employees, and around one-third of them could feel the pinch of the shutdown with furloughs.

“The impacts this will have on people will become, in my view, more critical as this rolls forward,” Owens said.

“The way the civilian workforce has been treated is abominable.”

Owens, who voted in favor of Obamacare when he first entered office after a special election in November 2009, has often said that he believes parts of the law should be changed. One of those is a tax on those who produce medical devices.

Owens said he is willing to debate changes to the law. 

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