Today I joined my colleagues across the aisle and voted to end the Republican shutdown and increase the debt ceiling. The final vote count was 285-144, with almost two thirds of the Republican caucus voting to keep the government closed and default on our national debt. After 16 days of a government shutdown and days of teetering on the edge of a national default, we have ended up almost exactly where we started on September 30th. We have passed a clean debt limit increase and a clean continuing resolution. The only difference was requirement for strict efforts to verify the income of individuals who apply for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, a measure that would like have enjoyed bipartisan support regardless.
I will be the first one to say that we need to have a serious conversation about our national debt, wasteful spending in the federal government, and changes to the Affordable Care Act. But the tactics used by a small faction of the Republican Party put our economy at risk and harm the American people.
More than two weeks of government shutdown have cost the U.S economy $1.5 billion a day in lost revenue and shaved 0.6% from U.S. GDP in the 4th quarter. The stock market dropped 133 points on Tuesday as global markets were anxious at the threat of a potentially historic U.S. default. Even the business community, a long time ally of the GOP, has called on Republican leaders to not place political motives ahead of the full faith and credit of the United States. And this week, one of the three largest credit rating agencies, Fitch, issued a negative outlook on U.S. Treasury bonds. Because of the shutdown, President Obama had to cancel a trip to Asia to meet with leaders from across the region. In his absence, the Chinese president took center stage and advanced his country’s agenda.
Our failure to uphold the basic responsibilities of Congress has delayed action on important pieces of legislation such as the Farm Bill, water and transportation bills, and Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Now, finally, we can get back to the real work of representing the American people here in Washington.
We cannot continue to govern from crisis to crisis. We cannot continue to allow a small minority of the Republican Party to hold our government hostage every time they want to make a point. This kind of governance hurts our country – it hurts veterans, seniors, border patrol agents, federal employees, and others. It also hurts our standing as a nation, putting our full faith and credit into doubt. I hope that when we debate the federal budget again on January 15, 2014 and an extension of the debt limit on February 7, 2014 that the extreme part of the Republican Party does not repeat this national nightmare.
Congressman Henry Cuellar