KUSA - As Congress worked Wednesday evening on a deal to end the 16-day partial government shutdown and avert the debt ceiling crisis, the effort found support from both Democrats and Republicans in Colorado's congressional delegation.
All but one of Colorado's congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) voted "no" on the Senate-brokered bill to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
The bipartisan deal passed the Senate 81-18. The House of Representatives passed the measure 285-144 late Wednesday night. President Obama promised to sign the legislation "immediately."
Despite voting with House Republicans to try to force a hit to Obamacare in the early stages of the shutdown, Representative Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) says he gave up on that strategy when he decided it was fruitless.
He didn't think it would go like this.
"No, I really thought that there would be negotiation," said Coffman, who points out the deal leaves room to fight another day.
The government will be funded until Jan. 15 and the debt limit will be pushed back to Feb. 7.
"Certainly if I'm going to support a longer term increase in the debt ceiling it's going to have to show a path that will have conditions on it, that will bring down this nation's debt," said Coffman. "I think it's premature for groups to be critical of this bipartisan agreement when the negotiations have yet to occur on a final deal."
Coffman said he would have preferred to push for a bite out of Obamacare after averting a shutdown, but before the debt ceiling deadline, a move he thinks would have provided a better opportunity to highlight problems rolling out the healthcare law's insurance exchanges.
Democrats supported the deal, which incorporates virtually everything the president and Democrats wanted and virtually nothing that Republicans were after.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) raked conservative House Republicans over the coals, saying they should be humbled by the defeat.
"That group couldn't extort the rest of the country. They couldn't hold the federal government hostage to their demands and in the end they realized that their position was untenable, unsustainable, and wrong," said Udall. "I hope that same extremist group when we sit down to work together will either come to the table constructively or stay out of the way because there's too much at stake."
House Democrats applauded Republican House Speaker John Boehner's decision to allow a vote on the deal, a move that runs counter to the so-called "Hastert rule," the practice of allowing votes to take place only when legislation can pass without needing support from the minority.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) hopes the rule will be relaxed more often going forward.
"I think if the speaker were to allow Democrats and Republicans, sort of the center of the Congress to move things forward, this country would really take off," said Perlmutter. "I mean, we could get back to innovating. We could get back to building our infrastructure. We could deal with major issues like immigration reform instead of shutting the government down for two and a half weeks."
Statements from Colorado delegation:
SENATOR 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.
SENATOR 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," Udall said. "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.
In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address issues that I've pushed for years: reducing our nation's debt, passing immigration reform and a farm bill, putting in place more sustainable energy policies and making the federal government more accountable to taxpayers. But we must responsibly tackle these issues in inclusive ways that reject brinksmanship and political games.
CONGRESSMAN 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.
CONGRESSMAN SCOTT TIPTON (R)
To put it bluntly: Congressman Tipton's reckless shutdown simply made no sense, especially in hindsight. The past three weeks of pain for the people of Colorado could all have been avoided if Congressman Tipton had worked across the aisle in September - or any day since then - instead of engaging in irresponsible brinksmanship," said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Congressman Tipton's irresponsible antics have cost taxpayers $24 billion, and he has proved to the voters of Colorado what his true priorities are: making reckless demands in Washington, not supporting middle class families back home.
CONGRESSMAN 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.
CONGRESSWOMAN 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.
Nonetheless, tonight I am glad we avoided even greater financial disaster, as the Republican Leadership fulfilled their most basic obligation, finally allowing a vote on this legislation.
With passage we now have the time to work together on a bipartisan, bicameral budget that is fiscally responsible and pays for the needs of our country. As we negotiate common-sense, reasonable budget solutions, I particularly look forward to eliminating the blunt instrument of the sequester that has been a drag on our nation's economy for months.
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. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the coming weeks to avoid another crisis and to secure America's strength for the 21st century.
CONGRESSMAN 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 2 ½ weeks ago, I am relieved it's happening now," said Perlmutter. "Additionally, 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.
CONGRESSMAN 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.
CONGRESSMAN 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. Over two weeks have elapsed since the government shut down, and it is time for us to move forward as a nation and ensure that we pay our debts on time. 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.
Coloradans, especially those who have been impacted by the disastrous flooding, can rest a little easier knowing that they too are included in this legislation. I have been working night and day to ensure that Coloradans receive the disaster assistance they need to stabilize and rebuild their lives and communities. When it came to light that funding caps would need to be raised in order for Colorado to receive all of the money it required to rebuild its roads and bridges, I led the charge in the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would raise those caps, and the legislation passed unanimously.
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. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have exempted unions, big businesses, and Congress - why not offer this same treatment to the American people as well? That is why I remain committed to fully repealing and replacing Obamacare, as I have been since I began serving in this body. Its effect on our healthcare system, economy, and quality of care that Americans receive will be felt by everyone. This law must be stopped and I will do everything I can to stop it. Now we will be able to focus on the train wreck this bill truly is.
As a country and as a Congress, we can do better, and future generations of Americans expect nothing less. It is far past time for us to put our country on a path to fiscal solvency - one in which we pay down our debt, reform our tax code, and create an environment in which a pro-growth economy will thrive.
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