October 17, 2013
Late last night the House and Senate voted to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the federal government. It wasnít a victory for anyone involved and the underlying problems have not really changed. The agreement keeps the government open through January 15, 2014 at the levels allowed pursuant to the sequester and raises the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014. It also sets up a conference committee to discuss the FY 2014 budget and sequestration. That committee is required to issue recommendations to Congress by December 13th but there are no consequences if they fail to come to an agreement. To me, this sounds an awful like the Super Committee from 2011 and we all know how that ended.
I voted in favor of the agreement last night. By doing so I made a significant compromise in the interest of ending the shutdown and preventing America from defaulting on its financial commitments for the first time in history. I canít find a single reputable economist who did not think that a failure to raise the debt ceiling would have done significant damage to our economy.
Hereís why this vote represents a major compromise for me. It keeps in place the sequester cuts until January 15th. As you know, I oppose sequestration because it isnít a responsible or thoughtful way to manage the federal budget. Nevertheless, in the interest of Americaís economic security and in the spirit of compromise for the greater good, I voted yes.
I am also troubled by the short-term nature of the agreement. It sets up three deadlines for additional action and I fear that by not creating a longer term solution, we will be reliving this scenario again in January and February.
Despite my misgivings, I supported the agreement. I understand that one of the requirements of a legislative body is to compromise when necessary. The entire Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, in the House and Senate also voted yes.
We usually include a vote chart in these newsletters to show you basic vote tallies in the House. In this instance, I think itís important to pass along the actual roll call from the House and Senate so you can see for yourself the names of the 144 Members of the United States House of Representatives and the 18 Members of the United States Senate who were willing to default on our debt to further their own agendas. Weíve included links below:
Thank you for all of your feedback and support during this uncertain time. I appreciate hearing from all of you, whether you agree with me or not.