With the Republican-forced government shutdown approaching on Saturday, at midnight, Republican Rep. Brandon Williamson of New York was interviewed on C-SPAN. Williamson is a former Wall Street banker and tech entrepreneur who eked out a victory in 2022 in a district President Joe Biden won by a sizable margin in 2020. Before C-SPAN had callers ask questions, the New York representative had managed most of the interview offering up standard (and saccharine) tighten-the-belt talking points while equivocating on what was actually being done by his majority party to avert a shutdown.
Then one Kentucky caller asked two questions: whether or not Williamson would forgo his congressional paycheck if a government shutdown occurred, and for him to explain why Donald Trump remained the “standard bearer” of the Republican Party. Williamson failed spectacularly at the first question. He didn’t do so hot with the second question either.
After being told that he technically still gets paid even if he and his caucus can’t get their act together, Williamson responded that he would take the paycheck. Don’t you worry, Williamson wasn’t done, grabbing a metaphorical shovel so he could dig his ditch even deeper. “Our job does not end in a shutdown. We don’t get to stay home. We stay there and make it work,” he said, clearly forgetting that many others in the government who won’t get paid will do that as well. He then added, “I am not independently wealthy, and we are like any other family. We want to stay focused on the job and not be manipulated by our own financial circumstances to do what’s right for America.”
The Steve Bannon-endorsed MAGA New York Republican, whose previous investment banking job gave way to an entrepreneurial tech career and whose estimated wealth is between $3.1 and $8 million, very quickly felt the blowback as clips from the interview went viral. Williamson changed his tune less than 12 hours later.
A few hours after this interview, Williamson tweeted out a picture of a letter he sent, writing, “I have directed that the House suspend my pay to share the burden of a potential government shutdown; meanwhile, I am engaged in the fight to avert one.” He didn’t touch on the final statements he made about how Americans wouldn’t be sympathetic to other Americans who were losing their jobs. When a caller asked Williamson why the Republicans would waste so much of the governments’ money and time to hurt Americans, Williamson basically said that people get fired and stuff all the time:
You know, if you’re out in the private sector, I can assure you there’s lots of uncertainty in the private sector as well. That people get laid off, people get fired, they change careers far more than they do in government service, and so I don’t think you’re going to find a huge amount of sympathy, you know, for people that have been furloughed, or early retirement, or laid off, or their pension going bankrupt.
You know, you’re not going to find a huge amount of sympathy out there. That’s, I’m afraid, that’s just the reality. So I don’t think a shutdown is a win for anybody, and I’m doing everything I can to avoid that.
In April, Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood announced she would run against Williams in the 2024 election cycle. Hood is not the only Democratic candidate sharpening their knives for Williams’ seat. State Sen. John Mannion is also interested in running for the spot. He told reporters, “During the shutdown, servicemembers will work without pay, small businesses will lose access to critical loans and grants they need to stay afloat and grow, and hundreds of thousands of employees will be furloughed. Yet Williams has the nerve to declare that he has no sympathy for workers being furloughed or fired.”
Get out and vote in 2024 is all I can say.
Demand Congress ban partisan gerrymandering!
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