On government shutdown, Peter King deserves praise for his stance

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he, along with Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he, along with other lawmakers, want the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain differences between how fast Northport officials say patients get doctors' appointments there and what a national VA audit of Northport reported. Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

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Joye Brown Newsday columnist Joye Brown

Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has ...

Rep. Peter King has been called a firebrand -- and worse -- for comments about U.S. Muslims and terrorism. But his stance against the federal government shutdown is entirely correct.

The nation cannot let a handful of conservative Republican House members bring the U.S. government to a halt.

According to various news reports, there are some children not getting early education, and some poor infants not getting formula.

It's estimated that some 70 percent of government workers assigned to intelligence are not doing their jobs, either.

Essential -- but lower profile -- duties, such as inspecting food and issuing passports, have been impacted as well.

King deserves praise for standing up against his own party -- again, as he did for superstorm Sandy aid.

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But where is everyone else?

Beginning last week, King (R-Seaford) began a series of television appearances blasting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for leading Republicans to a dead end in the congressional stalemate over funding government.

King said that by criticizing a small group of Republicans, he was giving voice to a larger number of Republican members of Congress who feel the same way he does.

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If they feel they can't talk publicly, well, OK, because too often that's how politics works.

The question then becomes what are they and President Barack Obama doing privately to push House leaders toward a compromise that would end the shutdown, and avert another standoff over the nation's debt ceiling.

Compromise?

That's become an ugly word, and not just in Washington.

According to news reports, as of Monday the Republican House leadership was standing firm in doing nothing to get government moving again.

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A Sunday New York Times report says that's been the intent for months: Close down government until Obamacare -- the core of which survived a Supreme Court challenge -- is defunded.

That's not how this is supposed to work. And if it does, which of the nation's laws becomes the next hostage?

The two-party system should allow duly elected representatives to fight, craft a compromise and move on -- knowing full well there will be future fights over similar issues.

That's how it has worked for everything from suffrage and civil rights to abortion and affirmative action.

Fight, compromise.

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It's a cycle that began after the nation's founding. When strong states' rights advocates clashed with strong federal rights advocates during the constitutional conventions, the sides compromised on a system that created Congress itself. The genius of their modern democracy was that issues seemingly impossible to resolve in one debate -- or in one era -- could be raised anew and for a fresh look in another.

Check out the amendments to the Constitution, the issues they address and the years the amendments were passed. They show the hard-won compromises of a living government.

There is more at stake in Washington today than fenced-off D.C. playgrounds, furloughed federal workers and the nation's dwindling number of World War II veterans being denied easy, hard-earned access to their monument on the National Mall.

It's bigger than that.

This nation's government has been shut down by hyperpartisan politics and a determination by a few to willfully obstruct rather than do the harder job -- governing.

It's shameful.

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