Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Wittman, Cantor vote yes to end shutdown
In a late-night vote tonight, Congress agreed on a bill to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, at least temporarily.
The Virginia House of Representatives delegation was split, but the Fredericksburg area’s two congressmen, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, and House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th, both voted yes.
Here’s Wittman’s statement on the vote:
“I do not advocate for last-minute deals, but tonight the choice was yes or no, and the right thing to do was to re-open our government and stand by our obligations,” Wittman said. “This bill re-opens a government that has been shuttered 16 days too long, while federal employees have sat at home, veterans wonder if they will receive the benefits they have earned, and Americans have been denied basic government services. This bill ensures the government can pay the bills it owes; however, I strongly believe that Congress must not simply kick the can, but have a healthy debate and return to regular order, instead of governing by shutdown threats and risk of default. This is no way to govern. For the past two years, I’ve been arguing that Congress needs to get the job of funding the government done before Congress goes home for an August recess. The business of the nation needs to be done. We have to get back to doing business in a regular order and stop this cycle of crisis management.
“I supported previous efforts to fund government and repeal Obamacare because I believe the law is fundamentally flawed. The fight for real health reform will continue, and the fight for responsible governing will continue. I believe that America has great days ahead, and hope for Congress to listen to the people. Washington is broken, and has a long way back to even ground. Our founding fathers intended healthy debate on critical issues affecting our republic, but not at the expense of its citizens. We have an opportunity to improve, and I intend to fight every day for what is right for our country and for our future because it is so important.”
The Democratic chairman of Wittman’s 1st District issued his own statement, saying that the district’s constituents “won’t forget Rep. Wittman’s role in the crisis,” as he had voted for the House Republican bills that insisted on defunding the Affordable Care Act.
Other politicians have been issuing statements tonight as well.
Gov. Bob McDonnell:
“Tonight, Congress voted to fulfill its two most basic obligations: run the government and pay its bills. This is not an accomplishment to celebrate. It is merely the return of the basic functioning of our federal government after two weeks of grandstanding and delay. It is also disappointing that tonight’s votes aren’t even final steps, but rather, just another kick of the can down the road when it comes to addressing America’s most pressing budget, debt and spending challenges. Just like no one applauds an employee for simply showing up to work, no one should be praising Washington for simply agreeing to stay open and pay its debts. It remains shocking that for over four years the President has failed to rein in our national debt and lead on entitlement reform, and the Congress has failed to jointly pass a budget.
“Our nation faces a number of domestic and foreign policy challenges in the years ahead. The national debt continues to grow recklessly, and we all know that our entitlement programs must be dramatically reformed if they are to remain solvent and available for future generations. Fixing these issues requires statesmanship and strong leadership. That will not occur if we keep careening from one crisis to another. The people of this Commonwealth and this country are tired of the hyper-partisanship and the inability of the federal government to live within its means. It is time for leaders in both parties, and the President, to sit down together and find common ground. We cannot reach mid- January and face yet another deadline and continuing resolution spectacle like this one. We cannot find ourselves in early February again debating the debt ceiling. It is time for bold leadership in Washington and long-term agreements that put this great country on the sound fiscal footing we need to remain prosperous in an increasingly competitive world. I strongly urge the President and Congress to move towards a balanced budget amendment, which appears to be the only prescription to force spending restraint and entitlement reform, and set the country on a responsible fiscal path.
“Now that this shutdown has thankfully come to an end, we ask Virginians to contact the appropriate federal entities to obtain information on when specific agencies and services will reopen. All furloughed state employees are expected back on the job very shortly.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe:
“Today’s action is a long overdue end to an unnecessary episode that harmed Virginia’s economy. While mainstream Democrats and Republicans opposed the government shutdown, a few members of the Tea Party closed the US Government, took us to the brink of a catastrophic default, and inflected serious harm on thousands of Virginia families.
“During this process, it has been extremely disappointing to see my opponent embrace the architect of the government shutdown, the Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz. Tonight, Mr. Cuccinelli again refused to stand up for Virginia’s economy and support passage of this urgently needed compromise. In fact, he said he was ‘disappointed’ in the bipartisan progress being made.
“The most important question for Virginia voters in this election is: Who will bring together both parties in Richmond to focus on the economy. During this shutdown, I’ve made clear that I’ll never let ideology get in the way of bipartisan solutions while my opponent has repeatedly sided with the Tea Party.
“As governor, I’ll always work with both parties to put Virginia jobs first.”
“I am very pleased to see that leaders in Washington have come to an agreement that ends the government shutdown. This is a solution to a problem that should have never existed. For the last three weeks, we have seen the worst of Washington-style politics on display. Problem solving took a back seat to partisan bickering. Cable news shows became more important than solutions.
“And while this deal does address the government shut down and the debt ceiling, it does not come anywhere close to tackling our long-term fiscal and economic challenges. Our nation is nearly $17 trillion in debt. Congressional leaders and the President haven’t agreed on a real budget in years. Millions of Americans are still out of work. If we are going to solve these problems, Washington must do business differently.
“The contrast between Washington and Richmond could not be clearer. In Virginia, we’ve found that cutting back on the rhetoric and working together leads to better results. This is the Virginia way.
“Virginia has produced four-straight budget surpluses totaling $2 billion. Our rainy-day fund is on track to exceed $1 billion. This year we passed a comprehensive transportation reform bill that will reduce congestion and create jobs across the Commonwealth.
“I encourage our leaders in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats, to find a new approach to governing that focuses on results, not politics.”