Walden defends breaking ranks

By Pat Caldwell / For The Observer October 25, 2013 10:57 am
WASHINGTON, D.C. — It isn’t difficult to recognize the frustration in the voice of Oregon Rep. Greg Walden regarding the recent government shutdown.

Walden, who represents the sprawling Oregon 2nd Congressional District, clearly is not satisfied with the recent pact inked between lawmakers to reopen the doors of the federal 

government. 

“It pushes the problem 90 days out. What will be different then? Except we will be past the Christmas shopping season,” he said.

Walden — who has represented Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District since 1999 — was the only lawmaker from Oregon and Washington to vote against the plan to open the doors of the government and extend the debt limit. However, he joined more than 140 other GOP Congressmen who voted no on the proposal.

Walden said the federal spending levels are
irrational.

“This thing is really out of control,” he warned.

Walden said one of his biggest disappointments revolves around the fact that real political difficulties exist but the search for practical answers remains elusive.

“I went to Washington to solve problems. So this is just really frustrating. I didn’t want to shut the government down. But we will be right into the next crisis in January. We need to address the deficit and the spending problem,” he said.

Congress endorsed a last-minute deal Oct. 16 that reopened the federal government and boosted the federal debt limit after weeks of high-stakes political maneuvering and parleys. The latest American political contest began as a skirmish over President Barack Obama’s health care reform blueprint. The issue quickly escalated into a full-scale war of attrition, however, after Republicans linked cooperation on spending proposals with changes to the health care law.

The Oct. 16 pact is a temporary one. The new compact only funds the government until January and boosts the nation’s debt ceiling until Feb. 7. 

Walden broke ranks with the leadership of his party and voted against a deal to end the government shutdown and boost the federal debt limit. While his vote clearly linked Walden with the vision of the majority of the GOP House caucus, it also thrust the Hood River federal legislator into the epicenter of an epic political firefight. 

Walden, who is the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the panel that oversees all of the United States House of Representatives GOP election drives, said he wants to remain optimistic regarding successful political agreements. 

But he also said he does not carry any illusions.

“You try to make the right decisions. And, it’s OK to be frustrated. But right now we have a divided government. It is what it is. (Congress) is a microcosm of the country,” he said.