As a federal budget crisis gripped the nation's capitol and lawmakers worked to prevent a government shutdown, some Bay County citizens took to the street Monday to rally for an end to the stalemate.
About a dozen demonstrators waved signs at the intersection of State Road 77 and 23rd Street in a show of support for Rep. Steve Southerland (R-District 2). "What we're trying to accomplish today is to let the people of Bay County know that our representative and the Republicans in Congress need our help," Glen Leirer, Tea Party organizer, said. "They are doing everything they can to keep the government open."
Southerland and Rep. Tom Reed (R-New York) introduced a resolution to fund the government through December 15 and delay Obamacare's implementation for a year. It would also eliminate special exemptions from the health care law for members of Congress and their staffs.
Democrats have refused to tie the budget to the president's health care plan and Don Jones, vice chairman of the Bay County Democratic Party, is on board with the leadership's position. "I just think enough is enough," Jones said. "The Supreme Court took care of the issue and I just really believe [Republicans] ought to let it go."
Southerland said President Obama's recommendation to delay certain aspects of the health care plan's implementation is a reason to not let it go. "The president has clearly stated on record that the bill is not ready for prime time [so] I think rather than to create more chaos on the American people, that is the responsible thing to do," Southerland said.
Jody Wobser brought four of her eleven home-schooled children to Monday's demonstration for a modern day history lesson. "We still have the freedom to express our views and that's why we're here," Wobser said. "We need to stand our ground... we're not going to be bullied."
Southerland said he is "humbled" by the local support. "As someone whose family has been in the district 200 years, I know my district and my district wants me to stand up for what is right," Southerland said. "We're working hard to keep the government open so that the services that the men and women of this great nation deserve and expect continue without interruption."
But Jones said Southerland and his GOP colleagues are the problem, not the solution. "We send our congressmen and senators up there to do our business and they're not doing it... they're not compromising," Jones said. "I hate to say it, but I really believe that they're trying to get rid of [Obamacare] because they don't want the current president to have any successes."
Unless Congress reaches a last minute agreement, the federal government will shut down at midnight Monday.