NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

U.S. House signs off on deal to reopen the federal government and pay America’s bills

An eleventh-hour agree­ment nego­ti­at­ed by Har­ry Reid and Mitch McConnell to reopen the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and pay Amer­i­ca’s bills was accept­ed by the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Wednes­day night after top House Repub­li­cans admit­ted that their attempts to extract a ran­som in exchange for sim­ply ful­fill­ing their basic respon­si­bil­i­ties as rep­re­sen­ta­tives had failed mis­er­ably.

With less than few hours to spare, the House signed off on the Sen­ate’s amend­ments to H.R. 2775, send­ing the leg­is­la­tion to Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma for his sig­na­ture. The White House said the pres­i­dent was pre­pared to sign the leg­is­la­tion imme­di­ate­ly, there­by allow­ing agen­cies that depend on con­gres­sion­al appro­pri­a­tions to reopen for busi­ness begin­ning tomor­row. The Depart­ment of the Trea­sury, mean­while, will soon have the author­i­ty it needs to pay the nation’s bills.

The deal pro­posed by Reid and McConnell and passed by Con­gress can be likened to a band-aid that was quick­ly placed over a wound that was on the verge of begin­ning to bleed very bad­ly. It treats only symp­toms and does not address any of the under­ly­ing root prob­lems that have caused us to lurch from one man­u­fac­tured fis­cal cri­sis to anoth­er. But its impor­tance can­not be under­stat­ed.

The agree­ment keeps the so-called “sequester” in effect and only keeps agen­cies sub­ject to the appro­pri­a­tions process fund­ed through mid-Jan­u­ary, set­ting up anoth­er bud­get show­down after the new year. The so-called debt ceil­ing (debt repay­ment ceil­ing would be more appro­pri­ate) will need to be raised again by mid-Feb­ru­ary in order to once again pre­vent a default.

House Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Nan­cy Pelosi ral­lied her entire cau­cus behind the agree­ment. With the excep­tion of two Democ­rats who are out sick, Pelosi and her lead­er­ship team deliv­ered the votes of every sin­gle Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­ber of the House. John Boehn­er, on the oth­er hand, was only able to per­suade eighty-six of his col­leagues to vote with him to reopen the gov­ern­ment and pay Amer­i­ca’s bills. One hun­dred and forty-four Repub­li­cans refused to go along.

The final tal­ly was two hun­dred and eighty-five ayes, one hun­dred and forty-four nays. As not­ed, all of the nays came from Repub­li­cans.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Aye: Democ­rats Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDer­mott, Adam Smith, Den­ny Heck (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Kurt Schrad­er (OR); Repub­li­cans Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Doc Hast­ings, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, Dave Reichert (WA), Don Young (AK), Steve Daines (MT), Mike Simp­son (ID)

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­cans Greg Walden (OR) and Raúl Labrador (ID)

Ear­li­er today, NPI asked the Repub­li­can mem­bers of our region’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion to vote to reopen the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and autho­rize the Depart­ment of the Trea­sury to pay the bills. Most did so, even Doc Hast­ings and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, who rep­re­sent the most con­ser­v­a­tive dis­tricts in Wash­ing­ton State.

To them, we say thank you. The shut­down nev­er should have hap­pened in the first place, and Repub­li­cans were wrong to try to extract a ran­som just for doing their jobs. But all of the Repub­li­cans in the aye col­umn above deserve cred­it for their votes. They did what we asked them to do today, and we are grate­ful.

Greg Walden and Raúl Labrador, on the oth­er hand, failed to do as we asked. They vot­ed to keep the gov­ern­ment closed and to bring on a cat­a­stroph­ic default. They may think or say they cast a prin­ci­pled vote. But in truth what they did was incred­i­bly irre­spon­si­ble and reck­less. And that’s putting it mild­ly.

Walden, in par­tic­u­lar, should be ashamed of him­self. Labrador is a known mem­ber of the Ted Cruz fan club — his vote was cer­tain­ly irre­spon­si­ble, but it also was­n’t much of a sur­prise. Walden, how­ev­er, is part of John Boehn­er’s cir­cle. He is much more expe­ri­enced and he should know bet­ter. He should have joined with Boehn­er and McMor­ris Rodgers in vot­ing aye. We at NPI hope the pro­gres­sive con­stituents in his dis­trict won’t let their fel­low cit­i­zens for­get about his vote tonight.

We can­not com­mend Nan­cy Pelosi enough for her lead­er­ship. Once again, she has shown what a capa­ble orga­niz­er and leg­is­la­tor she is. She kept the entire House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus togeth­er and made sure that every Demo­c­ra­t­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tive vot­ed to reopen the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and pay Amer­i­ca’s bills.

Her efforts and Har­ry Rei­d’s efforts result­ed in a remark­able out­come: Total and com­plete Demo­c­ra­t­ic uni­ty in both hous­es of Con­gress. No defec­tions. Not one. This is some­thing that we have rarely seen, but it’s won­der­ful.

We can all sleep a bit eas­i­er tonight know­ing that we will not have to wake up to scary head­lines tomor­row morn­ing and and the fright­en­ing prospect of our gov­ern­ment default­ing on our nation’s debt.

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