WASHINGTON — California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Capitol Hill office was locked, with a sign reading, "Office closed due to government shutdown."
Much of her staff has been furloughed. The number of staffers answering calls has been scaled back. Casework has been suspended.
But the Democratic senator was inside -- steaming.
"Grow up," she said of House Republicans, whom she blames for the shutdown.
Boxer said she is open to negotiations on any subject but only after legislation is passed to reopen the government.
"We’re willing to look at tax reform. We’re willing to look at ways to further reduce the deficit. Anything they want to talk about is fine," she said in a meeting with California reporters.
"What is off the table is negotiating about whether you’re going to open the government or pay the bills you already incurred."
"If you’re a teacher and school begins at 9 o’clock, you’re in the classroom at 9 o’clock," she added. "You don’t negotiate showing up. Our showing up in Congress is keeping the government open and paying the bills we’ve incurred."
She called Republicans "sore losers," shutting the government down because of their "dislike of this president and his signature accomplishment," and she said she agreed with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that "anarchists" in the House are celebrating the shutdown.
She took aim at House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), saying he must stop "this destructive behavior ... if he loves his country."
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, responded in an email: "The House has passed a series of bills that would keep the government open and provide fairness for all Americans under the healthcare law. Senate Democrats, including Sen. Boxer, have blocked them and shut down the government. Now, the president and Senate Democrats should drop their 'no negotiations' stance, reopen the government, and work with us on a plan to raise the debt limit in a responsible way, with spending cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again and create jobs."
Boxer, in the Senate during the last government shutdowns in 1995-96, said this time was worse.
"It feels more dangerous now," she said, noting the budget standoff comes as the government risks a federal default unless Congress also raises the nation’s $16.7-trillion debt ceiling.
Among the impacts to California from the shutdown, she said: 169,000 federal employees furloughed, including 1,000 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, 240 Department of Housing and Urban Development employees in Los Angeles, 900 at the IRS in Fresno, and 600 at Yosemite National Park.
Boxer has closed her California offices, suspending the help her staff provides to residents on immigration matters, collecting Social Security and VA benefits and other problems in navigating the federal bureaucracy.
She said she is hopeful that moderate Republicans in the House can persuade their more conservative colleagues to approve a measure to reopen the government without attempting to defund Obamacare.
"The moderate Republicans in the House have to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough,'" she said.
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