Grayson blames shutdown on GOP literally drinking on the job

"Many of them seem loaded," the liberal congressman says, charging his GOP colleagues smelled like alcohol

Published October 1, 2013 6:23PM (EDT)

Alan Grayson         (AP/Evan Vucci)
Alan Grayson (AP/Evan Vucci)

In a Tuesday interview, Rep. Alan Grayson charged that Republican House members have been literally intoxicated while casting votes on the continuing resolutions that set the stage for today’s government shutdown. Noting “a number of public reports that you can smell alcohol on their breath as they’re voting gleefully to shut down the government and create chaos,” Grayson said that he had personally witnessed GOP colleagues smelling like alcohol. “Many of them seem loaded,” said Grayson. The Florida congressman declined to name names, saying, “it’s the usual suspects,” but that he didn’t “really feel like getting that personal with people.”

A spokesperson for Speaker John Boehner did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Politico reporter Ginger Gibson tweeted Saturday that she could “smell the booze wafting from members as they walk off the floor.”

Grayson said he thinks on-the-job alcohol consumption by GOP House members has “been a problem all year long.”

“It’s a fact we all have to live with,” Grayson told Salon, “and it’s making them violent and abusive towards America.”

Grayson also blamed today’s shutdown on Republicans’ “anarchist ideology” and “blind hatred of government,” saying they’ve become “the Captain Ahabs of 21st century American politics. Grayson had particularly harsh words for Speaker Boehner, who he said refused to allow a vote on a “clean CR” to avert a shutdown because “he enjoys his golf games with the president, and he doesn’t want to lose that perk, and so he’s desperate to maintain his relevance, and that means maintaining his position at all costs – even the kind of costs we’re seeing now for the country.” Grayson predicted that the shutdown, given its impact on veterans benefit applications, National Institutes of Health research, and Federal Drug Administration drug approvals, would lead “over time” to deaths.

The congressman said it seems President Obama “has learned from experience” about how to deal with the GOP, “and that’s what needed to happen.” But he panned the president’s decision to bring JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, whose company is reportedly in negotiations on a legal settlement of up to $11 billion, to the White House Wednesday. “I think it would be more constructive to invite in the pope, or perhaps Putin,” said Grayson.

A source told the Wall Street Journal that Dimon and other bank executives would be discussing their debt ceiling concerns.

“It’s true in general that Wall Street dictates our economic policy,” said Grayson, “but in this case neither Jamie Dimon nor anybody else from Wall Street seems to have been able to get the Republicans to understand the obvious resulting difficulties that would come from the largest debtor in the entire world suddenly defaulting on its debt.” He told Salon that “many Republicans in the House still regard the United States defaulting on its debt as a good thing, despite the fact that they’ve had one presentation after another in their own caucus from Wall Street bigwigs explaining the utter chaos” that would result.

Grayson argued that while “reasonable people can disagree” about the merits of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, Republicans are using it “as an excuse to attack the ACA as a whole.”

“When you talk to them privately,” Grayson told Salon, “what you find is that if they could repeal Medicare they would. If they could repeal Medicaid they would,” along with the requirement that emergency rooms treat patients who can’t pay for care.

“They are literally offended by the idea that people would get the care they need to stay healthy or alive even though they can’t afford it,” charged Grayson. “They regard it as some kind of crime against nature.”

By Josh Eidelson

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