Government shutdown focus of local protest

Not even the threat of rain could stop members of the Champaign-Urbana community from meeting outside of Rep. Rodney Davis’ Champaign office to ask him for his vote in reopening the government.

As the government shutdown entered its third week, MoveOn, a progressive public policy advocacy group, organized protests at more than 50 congressional offices across the nation. About 30 members of the community attended the protest for the 13th district, which was organized by Robert Naiman, policy director at Just Foreign Policy.

“We want Rep. Davis to disassociate himself from the extreme Republican right wing that has shut down the government in order to try and take health insurance away from millions of Americans who are getting it through the Affordable Care Act,” Naiman said. “We want him to vote to raise the debt ceiling without attaching these hostage-taking demands on health care, social security and Medicare.”

Many other attendees at the event also voiced their support for the ACA, including Jim Duffett, executive director at Campaign for Better Healthcare.

“We believe that health care is not a privilege, but a right. We’ve been pushing for affordable, accessible guaranteed health care for everyone for nearly 25 years,” he said. “Obamacare gets us extremely close, and it has already been operating.”

He added that the ACA would help hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans, who would previously have been unable to receive health insurance.

“For any party, Democrat or Republican, whether you don’t like a certain bill and you want to use it as extortion for shutting down the government and causing this country to default … is appalling,” Duffett said.

Davis released a statement on Oct. 1 condemning the shutdown, adding that Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama must negotiate in order to reopen the government.

“Like most of those I represent, I remain opposed to Obamacare, but a government shutdown is absolutely unacceptable,” said Davis in the press release.

In addition to voicing his support for the ACA, David Green, a social policy analyst at the University’s Center for Prevention Research and Development and 13th District Democratic Congressional candidate, went to the protest to push for the reopening of the government.

“I came to this protest because the immediate need is to get the government funding again, get people back to work, get people the services they need and oppose the extortionist tactics of the Tea Party and the Republican leadership in Congress,” he said.

Green is asking for Rep. Davis and Congress to work for “genuinely people-driven social programs in this country,” which he believes Davis has not done.

Similar to Green, Gov. Quinn criticized the government shutdown at a press conference held in Urbana on Monday.

“I asked every elected official in Illinois, I’ve written letters to Boehner, the Speaker of the House. I’ve written letters to our Congressional members of the House,” he said. “We’re in a very serious emergency and we have to reopen the government right away.”

Eleanor can be reached at [email protected]