A deal struck on Capitol Hill Wednesday night opened the government after a two-week shutdown and avoided default on the nation’s debt, which analysts across the ideological spectrum warned would wreak havoc with the nation’s economy. Estimates put the damage to the nation’s economy from the shutdown and the threat to default in the billions. Federal workers and contractors went without pay, which government contractors have no way to recoup. The crisis was spurred by hard-line Republican lawmakers opposed to the Affordable Care Act, the so-called suicide caucus made up of members from deep-red districts, who were prodded by conservative interest groups.
All the Republican members of the Colorado delegation in Washington supported the suicide-caucus strategy, hoping against all odds of success that Democrats in the Senate and President Obama would be forced to essentially dismantle the health reform law, which was passed in 2011, ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court a year later and which is now largely operating as law coast to coast. Many of the act’s provisions are popular with American consumers.
No Republican member of the Colorado delegation signed the so-called discharge petition, promoted for a week during the crisis, that would have circumvented House leaders and brought a bill to the floor for a vote much like the bill that passed Wednesday night.
Second-term Colorado Representative Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, made news for floating a compromise proposal nine days after the government shutdown went into effect. Gardner’s idea was that House Republicans would agree to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling if Senate Democrats and the President would agree to enacting entitlement and tax reform by 2015. Gardner, and other House Republicans, seemed unwilling to grasp the fact that the time for negotiation had passed, that for the majority Democrats in control of the government, federal operations and paying the nation’s bills were not up for negotiation, that Republican policy positions, to say nothing of fringe Tea Party positions, had lost in a landslide at the ballot box not even one year ago.
In a baffling release this morning, Third District Republican Scott Tipton explained that, given the realities of the legislative process, the House Republican strategy was doomed from the start. Tipton had voted in support of that strategy for two weeks until breaking with it last night.
In the end, Republicans managed to extract no major concessions. Republican leaders looking to put a positive spin on the debacle called it a moral victory.
The nine members of the Colorado delegation all voted for the deal Wednesday, except Fifth District Republican Doug Lamborn, a member of the so-called suicide caucus. How did they all respond in the wake of yesterday’s vote to end the standoff?
Sen. Mark Udall (D) “One of Congress’s top duties is to support job creation, strengthen our nation’s economy and help middle-class families thrive. But for several weeks, an extreme faction of one political party in one house of Congress manufactured a crisis and held our economic recovery hostage. It comes as no surprise that Coloradans overwhelmingly have rejected this extremist brinksmanship and instead implored members of Congress to collaborate on a bipartisan path forward. I’m proud that this bipartisan agreement finally will reopen our federal government, avoid a default on our nation’s obligations, and deliver much-needed aid to Colorado’s flood-ravaged communities — a provision I fought for.”
Sen. Michael Bennet (D) ““This ridiculous manufactured crisis was a kick in the teeth for Coloradans, especially those doing the hard work of trying to recover from floods and drought. Shutting down our government and threatening our full faith and credit to score political points is absurd. And we did all of this for a short-term budget deal that barely keeps the lights on.
“In spite of all the dysfunction, we were able to pull together to ensure that the agreement included access to much-needed emergency funding to help Colorado rebuild our roads and highways.
“If Washington does not get its act together, we will find ourselves in the same situation in a matter of months. It’s why this town has earned its reputation as ‘the Land of Flickering Lights.’ What we really need, and what Coloradans have told me in countless town halls across the state, is a comprehensive, bipartisan budget plan that materially reduces the deficit and shows we’re all in this together. That sort of solution should include making important reforms to our antiquated tax code. We need to stop posturing for political points and start solving the problems that Coloradans have asked us to, beginning with bipartisan work on fixing our immigration system, passing a Farm Bill, and constructing an energy policy for the 21st century.”
District 1 Rep. Diana DeGette (D) “The bill I voted for tonight is far from perfect, but it fulfills our most basic obligations to keep the federal government running and pay our nation’s bills. While it was the eleventh hour, I am pleased the House Republican Majority decided to end the partisan games and avoid devastating our economy. Unfortunately, in the past 16 days, collateral damage has already been done. Since the government shut down, our economy has lost billions of dollars, while 800,000 hard-working Americans were furloughed, fearful they would not be able to pay their bills and uncertain of how to support their families. The looming threat of defaulting on our debts caused uncertainty in the markets and a loss of confidence around the globe.
“Now is our opportunity for the grand bargain we have been talking about for far too long; one which solidifies our recovery while ensuring our long-term economic strength, and one which gives our business community the certainty they require to help our nation thrive and grow.”
District 2 Rep. Jared Polis (D) “After 16 days, the House FINALLY voted on a bill to not only reopen the government immediately, but also to increase the debt ceiling before tomorrow’s looming default deadline. It’s about time. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees can finally get back to work and government agencies, like FEMA and the National Park Service, can fully function and serve the people.
“When Congress pats itself on the back for solving a problem entirely of its own making, you know something is very wrong with the picture. It is simply unacceptable that it took 16 full days of uncertainty to come to an agreement that was basically laid out on day one. I hope this senseless government shutdown teaches the more reckless elements that we should responsibly work together to improve the lives of Coloradans and all Americans without resorting to punching ourselves in the face.
“I am proud to say the bill we passed today also raises the cap on emergency relief transportation funding so Colorado is able to repair road damage caused by last month’s horrendous flooding.
“All of the above is good news. The bad news is that this bill is just a short-term extension and we will be facing another government closure and debt default in just three months. I will encourage and engage in meaningful negotiations to restore sustained fiscal integrity to the federal government and balance our budget rather than continuing to govern crisis to crisis. The Hippocratic Oath that all doctors take is “do no harm” maybe the United States Congress should incorporate that into the oath of office.”
District 3 Rep. Scott Tipton (R) “We have voted every way possible to repeal, defund and replace Obamacare in the House. Some even thought that a government shutdown would stop it. But as we’ve seen over the past two weeks, while some government functions have ceased during the shutdown, Obamacare has continued unaffected. Our Constitution lays out the legislative process very clearly, and to pass or change a law (including Obamacare) we need the House, Senate and the President to act. While spending bills originate in the House, the Senate and President must also act.
“Today’s agreement includes positive steps to extend responsible spending reforms, prevent a national default on nearly $17 trillion of U.S. debt, and reopen the government. It protects the economy and sets the stage for further budget negotiations to address our nation’s spending crisis.”
District 4 Rep. Cory Gardner (R) “America does not default on its debt. We pay our bills. Our nation is tired of the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, and rightfully so. The economic impact of a default would be dire, and would result in, among other things, an increase in interest rates. A one percent increase in interest would add over $120 billion a year in debt.
“While this bill does retain the largest spending cuts in a generation – the sequester – this short-term spending measure and debt limit increase does not address our long term fiscal problems, plain and simple. This is why within the past two weeks I began working with Democrats and Republicans on an honest proposal to lower our debt, cut spending, reform our tax code, and fix our broken entitlement system in order to give our children and grandchildren a thriving America. I believe this plan will be our solution going forward as it also contains a series of enforcement mechanisms to ensure that Congress actually follows through with its job to make sure we are not stuck in another cycle of shutdowns and showdowns – it incentivizes members of both parties to work together. This framework is a far better solution than the short term measure passed tonight.
The rollout of Obamacare has been nothing short of disastrous. Forcing Americans to legally purchase a product that has proven nearly impossible to purchase boggles the mind.”
District 5 Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) “I am disappointed President Obama and Senate Democrats resisted every effort House Republicans put forward to reform government spending and bring more fairness to middle class Americans stuck with the cost of ObamaCare. But our cause is worth fighting for and I will continue to fight reckless spending in Washington.
“My constituents are calling me with nightmare stories about skyrocketing healthcare premiums as a result of ObamaCare. Businesses are only hiring part-time workers to avoid the ObamaCare mandates and penalties. I remain committed to protecting all Americans from this oppressive law.
“I don’t believe our efforts here have been in vain. We have called attention to the need to reform federal spending and to bring more fairness to ObamaCare. I remain hopeful that the fight will continue and will gain strength from the American people in the coming months and years.”
District 6 Rep. Mike Coffman (R)“I’m supporting this agreement tonight because Washington has been frozen by partisan gridlock in both political parties. This proposal is a bipartisan compromise that reopens the Federal Government and requires we begin negotiations to reduce our nation’s rising debt. Essentially, this proposal says we’re done fighting and we’re ready to begin an honest discussion about solutions for reducing the debt.”
District 7 Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) “Tonight I voted in favor of a bi-partisan bill to reopen the government, pay our bills and reinstate hard working Americans in their jobs. Though we could have avoided this crisis altogether by voting on this very measure two and a half weeks ago, I am relieved it’s happening now. I hope we get to work immediately on finding a bi-partisan budget solution, something like a Simpson-Bowles plan which I support, in hopes of avoiding this type of crisis in the future.”