In Response to my Open Letter to Congress

Last month, I posted a blog in response to the government shut down, voicing my displeasure with our congress.

Missouri Senator, Claire McCaskill, issued this response today:

Subject: Reply from Senator McCaskill

November 13, 2013
Dear Ms. Brown,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the government shutdown and our nation’s debt limit.  I appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
Funding the services and operation of the federal government and paying our bills on time are among Congress’ most important and fundamental responsibilities.  Americans expect Members of Congress to find compromise solutions while keeping the government open for business.
As you know, members of the U.S. House of Representatives refused to pass legislation to fund the federal government without including specific ideologically driven policy conditions known to be unacceptable to the President and the Senate, causing a government shutdown from October 1 through 16, 2013.  The Members who supported this shutdown held the federal government hostage to an assortment of demands including dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.  These Members blocked an up-or-down vote in the House of Representatives on a “clean” funding bill free of such policy riders, which had passed the Senate and was widely reported to have adequate support in the House if a vote would have been taken on it.  During that time, nearly 40,000 federal employees in Missouri were out of work, benefits for Missouri’s veterans were delayed, vital loans for small businesses were sidelined, Social Security checks failed to go out to seniors enrolling in the program for the first time, and parks and offices across the state were closed.
An initial analysis by Standard & Poor’s estimates the 16-day government shutdown cost our nation’s economy $24 billion and reduced economic growth in the fourth quarter of the year by 20 percent.  It is completely unacceptable that some in Congress were willing to disrupt vital services and jeopardize our economic recovery to further their political ideological agenda.  I am disappointed that these lawmakers were unable to see the value of compromise solutions to our nation’s fiscal challenges.
Many of these same lawmakers also irresponsibly threatened to allow our nation to default on its debt obligations by refusing to increase the debt limit.  To be clear, raising the debt limit does not authorize one dime of new spending.  Rather, it allows our government to pay for spending that has already been approved by Congress and sustains our nation’s full faith and credit in the global economy.  Refusing to raise the debt limit would have caused abrupt, devastating economic consequences worldwide and at home.
On October 16, 2013, with my support, the Senate passed H.R. 2775, a bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and allow the U.S. to continue to pay its obligations.  The bill continues funding at Fiscal Year 2013 levels through January 15, 2014 and suspends the debt limit through February 7, 2014.  It also requires House and Senate budget negotiators to work to reach an agreement on overall spending by December 13, 2013.  I sincerely hope that this bipartisan measure can be a blueprint for future cooperation and compromise.  Congress must put aside partisan differences and end the eleventh-hour stalemates, which endanger our economy, hold the interests of the American people hostage, and undermine our nation’s financial credibility.
As we move forward, I am anxious to get back to work on the things that really matter to Missouri families – like expanding job opportunities, fixing our crumbling infrastructure, and making college more affordable.  But, we are only going to achieve those goals through negotiation, compromise, and moderation.
Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.
Sincerely,
Claire McCaskill
United States Senator
P.S. If you would like more information about resources that can help Missourians, or what I am doing in the Senate on your behalf, please sign up for my email newsletter at http://mccaskill.senate.gov.
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