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Shea-Porter: Guinta Takes Pride in Blocking Legislation

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 (Published in print: Wednesday, October 29, 2014)

While her opponent says she doesn't have much to show for her six years in Congress, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter contends that it’s “nothing short of miraculous” that Democrats in the House have accomplished what they have.

She said House Republicans – including former U.S. representative and Manchester mayor Frank Guinta, who served the 1st Congressional District between 2010 and 2012 – have adopted a mantra that they don’t want to pass legislation.

“They said, ‘You should judge us not by the laws we pass, but the laws we repeal,’ ” she said.

Shea-Porter served in the U.S. House from 2006 to 2010, when she was unseated by Guinta, only to retake the seat in 2012. She characterized Guinta as a Tea Party Republican, and said many Tea Party Republicans are still in the House after a wave of success in 2010. She said they “make things difficult” even for their speaker of the House, John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

“Occasionally, if I can work up a little sympathy for the speaker, I can think about he still has that group to deal with,” she said.

Boehner decides what bills see the floor, she said, which means “the only bills that go to the floor are bills that would be inherently unacceptable” to most Democrats and aren’t able to be amended on the floor.

As far as her accomplishments, she said the passage of a bipartisan budget was major and that it “required all of us to hold our noses” because it was the sort of compromise that left everyone unhappy.

She pointed to the farm bill as an example that the House Republicans aren’t very good at compromising.

She said the first proposal came with $20 billion in cuts to food stamps and “of course the Democrats aren’t going to vote for $20 billion in cuts.” So it was defeated.

“When they came back again with the farm bill, it was now $40 billion” in cuts, she said. “Is that really an effort to compromise? Go from 20 to 40? That’s some of the problem you see there.” She said the bill passed in its third version, which included $8 billion in cuts to food stamps.

Shea-Porter, who has worked as a social worker and taught at a community college, said her husband is a veteran and she’s blessed to serve on the Armed Services Committee, which she said is “the most bipartisan committee in the House.”

Despite criticism that she has voted with her party 95 percent of the time, Shea-Porter said she has split with the president several times, including on privacy issues, the arming of Syrian moderates – she said the U.S. can’t track their allegiance or ensure they’re using supplied weapons to fight the Islamic State – and the health care reform rollout.

“It was a terrible rollout. We can’t sweep it under the rug. We’ve been poorly served and people should tender their resignations,” she said she told the president.

She said Republicans who vow to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act never come up with any proposals for a replacement, and when they vow to keep the popular provisions of the law, “ultimately they’re going to keep the Affordable Care Act.”

She said the president has been slow in building a coalition to fight terrorism in the Middle East. She said the U.S. shouldn’t put soldiers back on the ground to fight the Islamic State and that the countries in the region must engage if there will be an effective deterrent to terrorism.

“No matter how pure our motives are, I don’t think (American troops) will be the thing that persuades those countries to stop fighting each other and the Syrians to stop fighting one another in the civil war,” she said.

On Social Security, she said it’s a social contract with seniors and that increasing it relative to a cost-of-living adjustment fails to address the fact that “seniors spend money differently,” mainly on medical costs, and they don’t have many options to reduce those costs.

On energy costs, she said the country needs to develop a long-term energy plan and recommended “an Apollo-type program” that takes the best minds from industry and academia and directs them toward the Department of Energy to “give it a fresh start.”

On corporate spending in politics, she, like many others, said the system needs to change.

“I’ve done as much as I can to change it by not taking corporate PAC money, not taking D.C. lobbyist money and signing off on the constitutional amendment” for fair elections and disclosure, she said.

She said she asked Guinta to sign an agreement to “push the third-party money out” and “he laughed at me.” She said the most recent ad he ran against her was “probably the worst I’ve ever seen against me” in that it calls her a liar then repeats claims she said have all been debunked by fact-checkers.

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