Hastings on End of Government Shutdown
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) made the following statement after the House of Representatives voted to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling through February 7, 2013:
“I join with many of my colleagues and millions of Americans in welcoming the end of this pointless government shutdown and increase in our nation’s debt ceiling to avoid a devastating default.
“For more than two weeks, House Republicans held our country hostage over the Affordable Care Act – more accurately described as the Affordable Care Law. Today, they finally came to grips with reality and agreed to end the shutdown, with nothing to show except record-low polling numbers and the highest level of U.S. jobless benefits claims in six months. That’s what this shutdown has gotten us. Instead of working to avoid a government shutdown in the first place, they decided to play politics with our nation’s economy.
“House Republicans repeatedly said that they wanted ‘fairness for all Americans,’ but their actions spoke louder than their words. It’s not fair to prevent 800,000 furloughed federal employees from working when they have bills coming due. It’s not fair to deny critical health care services to the most vulnerable in our society, including women, infants, and children. And it’s not fair to cheat our nation out of an estimated $20 billion in economic activity, while bringing us to the brink of default on our debt obligations.
“The 17-day Republican shutdown may be over, but its effects will be felt for years to come. From the very beginning, it was ill-advised and it was reckless. Our nation’s standing in the world has been diminished, and the American people’s trust in government is at an all-time low. Congress must do better.
“This short-term fix will not solve our problems overnight. Over the coming weeks and months, Congress will need to come together to make difficult decisions on how to effectively and fairly reduce our nation’s debt, while upholding our shared responsibilities to each other. Continuing to kick the can down the road with short-term fixes threatens the economic stability of our country and the entire globe. It is long past time for Congress to get back to work and address the many pressing needs of our nation and the American people.”
The House of Representatives voted to end the shutdown by a margin of 285 to 144, with 144 Republicans voting against the bipartisan compromise. As part of the deal, furloughed federal workers will receive back pay.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.