By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Less than 24 hours before the event, it still wasn’t clear if U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader would be attending his Keizer Town Hall meeting Thursday evening in person at Keizer Civic Center or via video call.
As it turned out, Congress passed legislation Wednesday evening the end the federal shutdown and Schrader flew back to Oregon on Thursday, arriving in time for the town hall.
To no one’s surprise, the recent shutdown in Washington, D.C. was a major topic of conversation. Schrader started his short speech taking on the subject head-on.
“It is good to be back home among the living and the sane,” the Democrat from Canby said to a roomful of about 40 people. “It’s been a difficult month and a half, to say the least. I apologize up front to everybody here. I’d like to think I’m more of the solution than the problem, but I’m sure every member of Congress feels that way. It was an embarrassing episode for our country. Hopefully we’ve all learned a little humility, to put our country over our politics.”
Schrader, who is wary of a potential second shutdown in January, noted he could see this month’s shutdown coming.
“Unfortunately when I was back in August, I was pretty pessimistic,” he said. “Unfortunately, I was right. I’m usually an upbeat guy. But I was very convinced we were going to shut down because the budgets in the Senate and the House were in two different stratospheres. They were $9 billion apart and that’s a lot of money, even in Washington D.C.”
Schrader emphasized neither political party gained a victory during the showdown.
“In the real world, nobody won,” he said. “The country lost. We lost some prestige. If I’m a young American, I’m wondering, ‘Gosh, what happened to this country my dad, my grandpa and grandma used to tell me about?’ This is not the way it’s supposed to be run. I hope that’s something we all have learned.”
Schrader is part of the No Labels Problem Solvers group, which seeks to break down barriers between political parties and encourage people of all political persuasions to work together.
“That’s the problem in D.C., we don’t trust each other,” Schrader said. “It’s really horrible. Our end game is to build trust, to build civility so I can disagree with you and not call you names, to realize you’ve got a legitimate point of view.
“I go to my own caucuses and I listen to folks,” he added. “It’s about polling and this and that. It should be about the country. We have elections every two years, but we’re supposed to be governing the rest of the bloody time.”
More from Rep. Kurt Schrader’s Oct. 17 town hall meeting will be in the Oct. 25 print issue of the Keizertimes.