Looks Forward to Negotiations on a Long-Term Budget Solution
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) voted tonight in support of an agreement that brings to an end the 16-day government shutdown and avoids a default that would have had catastrophic impacts on the United States economy. The deal funds the federal government through January 15, 2014, and extends the nation’s borrowing power, known as the debt ceiling, through February 7, 2014. In addition, Congress must convene a budget conference and report back a plan by December 13, 2013.
“I am glad and relieved that we have finally been able to reach an agreement to reopen the government and avert a historic credit default,” Langevin said. “But the American people have paid a steep price for the brinksmanship that precipitated and prolonged the government shutdown and brought us to the edge of fiscal disaster. Small businesses have been unable to apply for loans, hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been furloughed, and access to government sites, services and benefits has been unavailable to the millions of Americans that need them. This compromise is the first step in righting those wrongs.”
The agreement comes just one day before the debt ceiling deadline. Without additional borrowing authority, the Treasury would have run the risk of defaulting on the nation’s debt, a financial disaster that would be unprecedented in American history. Even the threat of default rattled markets around the world and took a toll on the American economy that is still struggling to recover from a recession.
“Regardless of our differences, my colleagues and I in Congress must be absolutely clear that destroying the full faith and credit of the United States is not an option,” Langevin said. “We are the most powerful economy in the world; it is time we start acting like it.”
The fiscal deal also provides back pay for furloughed federal employees. Despite consistent efforts by Republicans to repeal or delay portions of the Affordable Care Act, the agreement leaves health care reform intact. The only health care-related provision included in the deal is a requirement for income verification for people seeking health insurance subsidies, a measure that is supported by President Barack Obama.
“This is no time for Congress to be congratulating itself for finding a way out of yet another manufactured crisis at the last minute,” Langevin continued. “None of the pain and drama of the last few weeks was necessary, and I am hopeful that we can finally move beyond merely governing from crisis to crisis. Democrats welcome a debate on budget priorities, tax policies and health care reform, and I am optimistic that my Republican colleagues have learned from this experience and are now ready to join us in the hard work of true negotiation and compromise for the good of the country.”