Both houses of Congress have passed a bill to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, voted for the bill. But the three congressmen who represent parts of Southwest Virginia – Republicans Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke County, Morgan Griffith and Salem and Robert Hurt of Chatham, voted against the measure in the House tonight. The bill still cleared the chamber by a vote of 285-144.
All three congressmen issued statements after tonight’s vote.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County: “The Senate’s plan raises the debt limit and merely delays discussion on debt and spending for a short time and does little to address the fundamental fiscal challenges facing our nation. The fact of the matter is that unrestrained government spending and unsustainable entitlement programs that make up nearly 70 percent of our spending remain untouched by this measure. After years of debate it is time to take action.
“Unfortunately, the Senate’s unwillingness to negotiate resulted in a measure that does not provide the reforms required to address the nearly $17 trillion national debt and the massive new entitlement program in the form of Obamacare. Getting spending under control and reducing our debt remain my highest priorities, and this bill did not meet those goals. That is why I could not vote in support of this proposal.”
Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem: “In our legislative process, each side must give up some priorities to come to a common agreement. Over the past several weeks, my colleagues and I made numerous attempts to compromise, but the President and the Democrat-controlled Senate never negotiated in good faith with House Republicans. In fact, while House Republicans were considering a proposal that would have only required the President and his political appointees to live under Obamacare like the rest of the American people, the President told House Democrats that he would veto any debt ceiling bill that included that provision. If Obamacare is good for the goose, why is it not good for the gander?* Further, the final agreement’s only ‘concession’ to Republicans is that the Administration follow what is in existing law – that Americans receiving taxpayer-funded Obamacare subsidies be required to verify that they meet income eligibility requirements.
“However, Republicans don’t control the White House or the Senate, and we did not win this Obamacare battle. But I continue to believe that the health care law is a train wreck that can not and will not work, and remain committed to seeing it repealed and replaced.
“It is true that this evening’s Senate amendments raise the debt ceiling for nearly four months and put us on a track to negotiations to agree to a budget for the first time since 2009. But the President, who once called letting the debt rise unchecked ‘unpatriotic,’ has been insisting that he won’t negotiate over raising the debt ceiling. While hopeful, I am skeptical that the President and Senate will change course, and come to the table to constructively work with Republicans to rein in the federal government’s spending addiction. We need a clear, disciplined, well-thought-out spending reduction plan in order to decrease our deficits and our debt, preventing us from further burdening future generations of Americans with excessive debt. For that reason and others, I could not in good conscience vote in favor of the Senate amendments.”
Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham: “I am very grateful for the many constituents who have contacted our offices over recent weeks. I share the relief of the American people in knowing that the federal government will resume its normal operations and that we have avoided the consequences of a breach of our debt limit. However, I was unable to support the Senate spending and debt limit legislation because it failed to impose even the most modest spending reform.
“I am disappointed that the Senate’s complete refusal to negotiate with the House has resulted in leaving the voices of Fifth District Virginians without a seat or a say at the conference room table. Under our Constitution, it is the obligation of both the House and the Senate to participate in the legislative decision-making that relates to our nation’s spending and our national debt. Sadly, however, prior to the introduction of the House’s first spending proposal back on September 20, 2013, the President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated loudly and clearly that there would be absolutely no negotiation with the House on any spending or debt limit legislation.
“And now, 26 days later, the President and the Senate have succeeded in defeating every single House proposal for reform and defeating every single House effort to reopen the federal government during recent weeks. Indeed, they have gotten exactly what they wanted – a continuation of a spending and borrowing policy that has resulted in a $17 trillion national debt – a debt that amounts to $123,000 for every working American.
“Now we must turn to the future. We have three months before we as a nation will again face the exact same deadlines we have put behind us today. It is my hope and prayer that the President will engage immediately and in good faith with members of both the House and the Senate to put in place serious reforms that will address the looming debt crisis that threatens the future for our children and our grandchildren.”