On Wednesday evening, the Senate finally forged a deal to end the Federal Government shutdown, and to avert a US debt default by raising the debt ceiling. After passing the Senate by a strong bi-partisan majority, the bill was quickly taken up and passed by the house, with 87 Republicans joining every Democrat to move the Country forward.
While much of the media coverage since Wednesday evening has focused on who the political winners and losers have been over the past few weeks, there are larger issues that have been exposed during this conflict and revealed in the final vote on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, when the Harrisburg Central Labor Council held a community rally at Senator Toomey’s Harrisburg office, labor leaders, veterans, and leaders within the faith community called on the Senator to end the shutdown and prevent a default. On Wednesday, however, Toomey was one of only 18 US Senators who voted to keep the Government closed, and to allow the US to default on our debt obligations. He was unfortunately joined by four Republican members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation. Representatives Marino, Pitts, Rothfus, and Perry also cast their votes in favor of continuing the shutdown and endangering the world economy.
Speaker Boehner had claimed repeatedly during the shutdown that he did not have the votes to bring a clean continuing resolution to the floor, and that was the reason why the Government shutdown was unavoidable. However, the bill passed on Wednesday was essentially the same as the clean CR that the Senate passed three weeks ago, which provides strong support to the repeated claims by Democrats and Some Republicans that the votes to avert a shutdown or to re-open the Government were there all along, if Boehner would have simply allowed a vote to take place. This begs the question of whether the entire standoff, the lock-out of 800,000 Federal employees, and the estimated $26 billion lost as a result, were nothing more than the cost of Boehner’s attempt to retain his speakership.
While Federal workers were able to return to the job yesterday, and the US Federal Government has, for now, avoided a disastrous debt default, these fights are likely going to return. The CR to fund the Federal Government only extends until January 15, and it is expected that the US will once again reach our debt limit on February 7. If members of Congress, such as Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey, Michelle Bachman, and Keith Rothfus once again decide to hold the Country hostage, then we could all too soon find ourselves in the exact same position again.
Make sure to let your members of congress know that playing these sorts of games with the US economy are not acceptable, and that you expect them to do their jobs for the American people, and particularly for American workers.