What a long 16 days it was. But as you know, the United States government is finally back open.
In my opinion, it was an unnecessary, frustrating, and very expensive ordeal that brought our country to the brink of economic disaster. I am pleased we have avoided risking the full faith and credit of the United States by not defaulting on our debt. That being said, there is, quite obviously, much work yet to do.
To give you a brief historical perspective, on October 1st of this year, the U.S. Congress failed to adequately fund the federal government. That forced the shutdown of federal agencies. As a result, we endured needless confusion, uncertainty, and harm to all Americans. This certainly includes public servants and their families, but also increasing costs to the taxpayers. According to reports, the 16 days the government was shutdown, cost our economy up to $24 billion dollars!
$24 billion dollars -- for an already fragile economy.
On October 16th, the House took up the Senate bipartisan compromise (S. Amendments to H.R. 2775), which passed with my support. This reopened the government to provide vital services that millions of Americans rely on. It also averted a catastrophic default. As part of this agreement, the House and Senate appointed conferees, who will start the budget negotiations. The legislation also requires certification of income verification, by the Department of Health and Human Services, for those applying for premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.
So where do we go from here? I am committed to getting a responsible and balanced plan during budget negotiations. My priority is to make investments that will create jobs and grow the economy. We must stop austerity cuts that are damaging our education, infrastructure, and science and innovation, while responsibly reducing the deficit.
Never again should the American people be forced to pay the price for a party's reckless and irresponsible strategy to hold the government and economy of the U.S. hostage, in order to advance their political agenda. I remain willing to work in a bipartisan manner, and am hopeful, that we will move forward on the budget and the economy - in a positive and productive way.