Congressman Courtney tonight voted in favor of a long-delayed, bipartisan measure to end the 16 day Federal Government shutdown and raise the nation’s debt ceiling through early February.
“This pointless government shutdown, driven by an extremist faction in the House Republican Conference, cost American taxpayers close to $5 billion,” said Congressman Courtney. “It drove kids out of Head Start, delayed home sales, removed intelligence analysts from their desks, shut down small businesses near national parks, and cut families from cancer treatments at the National Institutes of Health. It delayed funds and caused angst for defense workers, veterans, and seniors.”
“Every day during the shutdown, House Republicans would seek to restore a government function they were embarrassed they had denied from the American people,” said Courtney. “This farcical shutdown became the most expensive civics lesson in history — costing American taxpayers up to $300 million a day — to educate extremist House Republicans that government provides invaluable services to keep our nation and our economy moving.”
“As I have in the past, I voted for a compromise, bipartisan measure forged in the Senate to break this impasse,” said Courtney. “It was the same deal we could have voted on in August, certainly a deal that we could have voted on three weeks ago to avoid this self-inflicted damage. Instead, Congressional Republicans embarked on a course of brinksmanship, to extort partisan political damage to affordable health care by threatening the full faith and credit of the United States and denying Americans the government services for which they had already paid.”
The measure supported by Courtney passed the House with a 285-144 vote. It included a Continuing Resolution to reopen and to fund the government at current sequester levels of $987 billion through January 15, 2014, extension of the federal debt limit through February 7, 2014, and establishes a conference committee to complete a 2014 budget by Dec 13, 2013. The measure also includes provisions strongly supported by Congressman Courtney to provide retroactive back pay to federal employees who were furloughed during the shutdown.
“Ultimately, House Republicans and Senator Ted Cruz were unable to sustain this brinksmanship,” said Courtney. Wall Street and business leaders demanded an end to this recklessness, credit rating agencies warned of possible downgrades, and adversaries, like China, began talk of de-Americanizing the world economy. But most importantly, Republicans yielded because the American people spoke and through anger and public surveys overwhelmingly affixed blame for this crisis where it belonged: on the shoulders of Congressional Republicans.”
“That is the most important lesson of this sad episode — that the American people will not tolerate governing by political extortion and threat,” said Courtney. “With their public approval ratings at historic lows, Speaker Boehner and his Republican Conference will be wise to heed these warnings.”
“Earlier today, Warren Buffett described threatening to not raise the nation’s debt limit ‘after you’ve already spent the money’ as a ‘political weapon of mass destruction’ that should not be employed by either party,” said Courtney. “Buffett called on both parties to pledge not to use the debt limit as a weapon, and he is right.”