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Rep. Kind is co-leader of bipartisan group seeking to end government shutdown

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, at the podium, speaks at a press conference at the nation's Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 3, in which a group of eight Democrats and 11 Republicans announced that they are working together to find a solution to the federal government shutdown. (Submitted photo)

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin, and Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania, held a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 3, with a group of 11 House Republicans and eight House Democrats to announce that they were working together on a solution to the government shutdown.

Kind, who represents Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District that includes Pierce County, is the leader of a group of moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives.

“We need to walk before we run by having constructive conversations to build trust,” Kind is quoted as having said in a press release from his office.

“Working with my friend Congressman Dent and a coalition of members from both sides of the aisle, our focus right now is to start moving the ball forward by having a constructive dialogue about ending this shutdown and getting the government working again.”

In a telephone conference with reporters from Wisconsin and Minnesota later in the day, Kind said the bipartisan group is proposing a repeal of the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices that is part of the Affordable Care Act.

He said the tax revenue would be replaced by changing pension-funding obligations for private companies to bring in more money.

“The only way this is going to be fixed is through bipartisan cooperation,” Kind said over the phone from the cloak room of the House chambers.

He acknowledged that House Democratic leaders and the White House have a different strategy.

“Unfortunately, it seems to be the case around here that when one party feels they’ve got the upper hand, or they have their foot on the other person’s neck, they don’t want to let them up,” he said. “And that, I think, is very damaging to a democracy. There has to be an element of face-saving, too – a little dignity preserving in all of this.”

He continued: “I’m just afraid the leadership on both sides is so dug in waiting for the other to completely capitulate that there’s not much room for a bipartisan compromise in order to get this done.

“And folks back home don’t care. What they expect is a higher level of duty from their representatives in Washington to make sure that the government for the greatest country in the world keeps its doors open, and that the adverse effects are ended as soon as possible.”

Kind said a group of more than 20 House Democrats and 20 House Republicans have been meeting this week to try to find a compromise.

Asked whether any other members of the Wisconsin delegation have been part of the talks, he named Rep. Reid Ribble, a Republican from the 8th District in northeastern Wisconsin.

When asked, he said Rep. Sean Duffy, the Republican who represents Wisconsin’s 7th District, including St. Croix County, hasn’t attended the meetings.

Kind said the Republicans who participated in Thursday’s press conference went directly to House Speaker John Boehner’s office to report on the bipartisan talks.

“There appears to be momentum building on each side” to find a way out of the stalemate, Kind said.

He characterized the discussions to date as “very, very productive.”

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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