U.S. congressman: 'If anyone is not essential, it's the U.S. Congress'

Dylan Stableford
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) strains to hear a reporter's question as he departs the Senate floor after a late-night vote rejected budget legislation from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 30, 2013. The U.S. government was on the edge of a major shutdown as Congress remained in partisan deadlock on Monday over Republican efforts to halt to President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms using a temporary spending bill. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)

As the first federal government shutdown in 17 years entered its second day, there appeared to be no end in sight to the stalemate — and no shortage of sound bites coming from frustrated lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“The apocalypse is upon us,” Republican Sen. John McCain told reporters upon hearing the news that the impasse might cause the cancellation of this weekend's Air Force-Navy college football game. McCain, a graduate of the Naval Academy, wasn't kidding.

Republican Rep. Scott Garrett applauded the veterans who stormed the World War II Memorial. “These are the same guys who faced down the Nazis, the same guys who faced down the Japanese in World War II, and they were not to be stopped by a piece of yellow tape," Garrett said.

Garrett also slammed the shutdown of the National Mall, "which is just an open piece of grass — there’s no legitimate reason for doing so."

Other members of Congress lamented the furloughs the shutdown has wrought.

"We need to put our country first and take care of those that have been taking care of us," New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm said on CNN Wednesday. "There's no such thing as a nonessential employee. I started in the government as a GS-5 making 30 something thousand dollars a year. I'd hate to think that what I did for the government wasn’t essential. So, I want to say to all those people, you are essential to me. If anyone is not essential, it's the U.S. Congress."

Grimm said he hoped to form a coalition with other House Republicans, including New York Rep. Peter King, who blasted tea party members for the shutdown.

“You have 40 Ted Cruz Republicans in the House running national policy,” King told the Washington Post. The "Ted Cruz element," as he called them, are living "in their own echo chamber."

"Obviously everyone knows we have a far right faction that we have to deal with and we have to unify," Grimm said. "That is why I think we'll need a coalition of members to finally say, listen, the most important thing here are those people that aren't going to work today, that have bills to pay, that can barely make ends meet. Those that have small children. They don't know what to tell them. That's what's important to the American people, not our egos, not our poll numbers. All of that is completely irrelevant."

In a separate interview on CNN, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said there might be “enough rational Republicans” joining Democrats to pass a funding bill to overcome the government shutdown.

“It appears that we may be getting to a place where there are going to be enough rational Republicans to join with the Democrats and pass what is a continuing resolution, which will fund government, get us open, give us the opportunity over the next six weeks to see if we can come to an agreement for a final resolution for the balance of the year," Hoyer said. "A cooling off period, if you will. That makes sense for the American people. Makes sense for the government. Makes sense for the country.”