Well, it’s over!
After 16 days of pointless partisan rhetoric, the 113th Untied States Congress has magnanimously agreed to do its job and pay its bills.
87 House Republicans finally stood up to their Tea party masters and joined with all 198 House Democrats to approve a Senate bill to fund the government and increase the debt limit.
The Senate bill, which passed earlier in the day by an 81-18 margin, is a temporary measure which funds the government until January 15 and increases the debt ceiling until February 7. It also requires both chambers to appoint members to a negotiating committee charged with hamming out a ten year budget by no later than December 13, 2013.
And what did the Tea party caucus get in return for holding the country hostage for 16 days?
The Tea Party mistakenly believed that they could force the president to defund Obamacare. They tried a government shutdown. Democrats said “No.” They threatened to take the country to default. Democrats said “No.” Backed into a corner and realizing that the Democrats were not going to move on Obamacare; the Tea Party folks placed a litany of demands on the table hoping to gain something… anything on which they could claim victory and go home. Tort reform… tax reform…Reduced EPA standards…Keystone Pipeline…! No! No! No! & No!
Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) perhaps summed up the frustration in the Republican caucus best when he said: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
The only thing that Republicans gained from this fiasco is an embarrassing defeat and damage to their brand; the full extent of which is yet unknown. The voters will weigh in on that subject in 2014.
The president, not one to rub salt in the wound, said: “There are no winners…no losers.” He couldn’t be more wrong.
The players in this game have been living in a vacuum. While politicians were bouncing talking points off one another and contemplating Boehner’s legacy, people were suffering.
Economists estimate that $24 billion in economic activity was lost during the shutdown. We’ll never get that back. 800,000 government workers furloughed…millions more in the private sector. Tens of millions deprived of government services that they count on to survive. The list goes on and on…
And for what?
For a deal that could have been made on day one if only those in charge had put country ahead of party.
Congratulations! Job well done!