Senate Chaplian Barry Black, a 64-year-old Seventh-day Adventist and Baltimore native, has used his congressional pulpit to call for an end to the "madness" of the government shutdown.
Black has used his position to rebuke political partisanship since the crisis started. But on Wednesday, the retired vice admiral chastised members of Congress for the federal shutdown's impact on military families.
"Lord, when our federal shutdown delays payments of death benefits to the families of children dying on far-away battlefields, it's time for our lawmakers to say enough is enough," Black said during daily morning prayer before the Senate. "Cover our shame with the robe of your righteousness. Forgive us. Reform us. And make us whole."
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin later echoed Black's sentiments:
Why are we doing this? Is this part of the Republican strategy? Sick babies, mothers unprepared to deliver? Is that part of their strategy? Is that their leverage for what they want to achieve? If it is, I have three words for them: Enough is enough.
The House did vote Wednesday to reinstate federal benefits for families of fallen soldiers, but according to Politico, it's unclear how the legislation will fare in the Senate.
Last week, Black was particularly emphatic about the "madness" that had brought Washington to a standstill.
“Have mercy upon us, oh God, and save us from the madness,” he said during last Thursday's prayer.
Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable. Remove the burdens of those who are the collateral damage of this government shutdown, transforming negatives into positives as you work for the good of those who love you.
While there's no end in sight for the shutdown just yet, Black said he's hopeful that his words will have some impact.
“I believe that my responsibility is to plant seeds and to water them,” Black told MSNBC on Wednesday. “I am convinced that my labors, my prayers, my interactions with our lawmakers, my opportunity to serve them will bring a productive harvest.”