A group of roughly two dozen people gathered outside Rep. Scott Garrett’s Glen Rock district office Tuesday afternoon to urge the congressman, who they say remains one of the steadfast opponents on Capitol Hill of reaching a budget agreement, to support a clean vote on the budget without demands on changes to President Obama’s 2010 health care law.
John Haley, a coordinator for the event on behalf of Organizing for Action, a group affiliated with the president, said that the demonstration was part of a nationally organized day for action. Protesters were unable to meet with staff during the event.
“It’s a bit ironic in that we are here to protest the shutdown of the federal government and we cannot make our voices heard,” Haley said outside the door of the Harristown Road suite.
But the timing was important, he said, as Republicans and Democrats in Washington inched closer Tuesday toward a deal on raising the nation’s debt ceiling, before a Thursday deadline could trigger a default on the federal debt.
“It seems like a pretty good day to have it,” Haley said. “Yet again, the house Republicans have been trying to pressure the president on giving concessions on the health care law,” which the organization also showed support for in its demonstration.
While groups rallying at a congressional office are never likely to meet directly with their representative, they often have the opportunity to meet with staff.
“In my experience Garrett’s staffers are very open, very communicative, very receptive and willing to hear from constituents,” Haley said.
Maggie Seidel, the congressman's communications director, said that the office has been restaffed since the federal shutdown closed the office earlier this month. The lights were off during the event, however, and she could not immediately offer an explanation as to why no staff members were available to meet with demonstrators.
Jack Quartararo, who attended the rally, said that he’s called the representative’s Washington office several times before and since the shutdown, and found staff members there available for conversation on the issue.
Seidel maintained blame on Democrats for the failed negotiations on the budget and debt ceiling, which remained stalled through Tuesday with the threat of a default looming.
“Congressman Garrett, from the beginning, has opposed a government shutdown,” Seidel said. “He has voted numerous times to keep the government open, and is deeply disappointed that the United States Senate refused to negotiate with the House - despite our numerous legislative attempts to reach a deal.”
"Congressman Garrett has and will continue to work with his colleagues from both sides of the aisle to help resolve this impasse."