Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams on Friday called on Rep. Mia Love to do more to negotiate in Washington as gridlock moved the country the closest it’s been to a federal government shutdown in more than four years.
Love voted Thursday night with the House majority to keep the government open through mid-February.
But with the Senate and House at loggerheads over a short-term spending bill that would keep the government open past Friday’s deadline and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the crossfire, McAdams, a Democrat, said Republican Love isn’t doing enough to find common ground in Washington.
In what became the first major flare-up in one of the nation’s most hotly contested congressional races this year, McAdams said Republicans and Democrats shared blame for bringing the country to the brink of a shutdown. But he singled out Love, whom he’s hoping to defeat in November, despite her support of a bill that would fund CHIP for six years and passed the House only to face immediate and expected opposition in the Senate hours before a shutdown deadline.
“Everybody is seeing that for what it’s worth,” McAdams said of the House vote. “It’s a cheap stunt to try and cast a blame on somebody else, but not really a sincere and genuine attempt to try and find a resolution and to move forward.”
CHIP covers thousands of children from low-income Utah families and is set to run out of money by the end of March without more federal funding.
Love fired back at McAdams, both on Twitter and in an interview Friday, saying McAdams misunderstood the process and her impact on it.
“What evidence does he have that I didn’t” negotiate on the bill? Love told The Tribune. “He’s lying. I actually did.”
Love said she negotiated from her position as the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus. The caucus in December called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to fund CHIP for five years.
“There is not one place he can point to where I voted against CHIP,” Love said.
“There isn’t anybody in the delegation that does more bipartisan work than I do. Not one. From the climate solutions caucus, to being involved in the Congressional Black Caucus, to being involved in DACA, right up front, in front of that whole thing. There isn’t anybody.”
Senate Democrats are blocking passage of the House bill over their demand to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” who are part of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that President Donald Trump moved to end in September.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, met with Trump at the White House on Friday but the meeting ended with the two at an impasse over immigration, the Associated Press reported.
McAdams said it was “irresponsible” for Congress to wait until the deadline to strike a deal.
“Frankly, you’d have to spend a lot of time in Washington to think that this is something to celebrate,” McAdams added. “It’s irresponsible and the very clear sign that there aren’t grown-ups in the room back there.”
Love said Thursday was the third time in recent months she’s voted to extend funding for CHIP.
She offered three retorts to McAdams, her most high-profile opponent in her re-election bid, using ammunition that will likely become themes during the campaign.
“Call your party (and maybe your close friends the Clintons),” she wrote. “They are the ones blocking the vote.”
“Since you don’t live in the 4th District, did you call your Congressman about this?” she added.
McAdams’ home is just outside of the 4th Congressional District, though he can run for any district in Utah and about 85 percent of Salt Lake County residents he represents as mayor live in the district.
Love also suggested McAdams was using taxpayer money in his run for Congress because he held a news conference on a Friday morning.
McAdams said he frequently works long days as mayor, that he’s shown he can be a bipartisan deal maker as a state senator and county mayor and that the House bill was politics, not a solution.
“Yes, the House has approved something that would work,” McAdams said. “I’m not optimistic that we’ll have support in the Senate. Hopefully grown-ups in the Senate from both parties will come together and find a real and sincere effort to bridge the divide and find a path forward that actually does fund CHIP in a sincere and genuine way and also keeps the government open.”