Video: Sen. Mark Warner on Agreement to Reopen Government, Prevent Default

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    For a transcript of Sen. Warner’s remarks, see the “flip.” For more reaction from Virginia leaders, see the comments section of this post. Thanks.

    P.S. In no way, shape or form should we ever forget what Republicans just did to our country. In 20 days, it’s our first chance to let them know how we all feel about their irresponsible, destructive, disgraceful behavior, as we turn out in DROVES to vote against the extreme team of Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, and Mark Obenshain.

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) delivered these remarks on the Senate floor today following announcement of a bipartisan agreement to reopen the federal government and prevent a credit default:

    “To paraphrase Charles Dickens, in a way ‘It may the best of times and the worst of times.’ It may be the best of times because over the last couple of days we’ve seen leaders of the Senate, Leader Reid and Leader McConnell, basically say, ‘Let’s put away some of the disputes and end this crisis.’ I want to compliment their work and the work of all the bipartisan efforts that have been going on to put this to an end. So in a certain sense perhaps it is the best of times. Yes, we’re about to finally do our job. We’re about to actually reopen the government. Put our workforce back to work. And by a whisker, we’re avoiding default and financial calamity that would ensue if we continued down that path. But it’s also the worst of times in that once again we took this conversation to the 11th hour. We have inflicted damage on our economy and our reputation. We have – and not by a Republican or Democrat skirmish, but by a small group of a ‘our-way-or-the-highway’ crowd — we have violated the first principle of governing, which says: ‘First, do no harm.’

    Unfortunately, Mr. President, this self-inflicted crisis has done harm, even if we reopen the government and avoid default. The economist Mark Zandi has estimated that the cost to our economy is at least $20 billion. Reopening the government, avoiding default, isn’t going to erase that $20 billion hit to an economy that’s been struggling. I wish those who advocated for this shutdown, who advocated for this brinkmanship would be willing to come down and explain folks in my state or, for that matter, in their states, if you happen to be a government contractor, some of your workforce may have been deemed essential, you may get paid. But that portion of your workforce that was deemed nonessential chances are won’t be paid.

    A company in Virginia, 5,500 people strong, 34% of their workforce has been deemed nonessential. The company has tried to pay those people through this period. Some will be paid, some will not. They will not recover. Those individuals, those families will not recover. I’d like to have somebody come down and explain what all this was for in terms of the hurt that it took in their personal finances. I’d like some of the folks who advocated these tactics to come down and explain to a restaurant owner down in Hampton, Virginia, the workforce at NASA Langley, 3,500 strong was reduced through this furlough to seven people. The lost

    receipts from that restaurant over the last two weeks, how their tactics somehow improved the fortunes of that private-sector business. I’d like those who advocated that this was smart politics to shut down the government and take us to the verge of default, explain to the motel owner on Skyline Drive in Virginia who lost a couple of weekends of the peak fall foliage season and won’t see any of those dollars come back, how this was in their best interest to shut down. It’s not just in Virginia. Yosemite in California. It’s national parks in Texas.

    I’d be anxious for some of those who advocated for these tactics to explain to those private-sector business owners who won’t see those dollars come back. They’re not going to get recouped. I’d like those who say and come to this floor and talk about trying to get rid of our debt and deficit and the burdens on the taxpayer, how these tactics of shutting down the government and bringing our nation to the verge of default help the American taxpayer. The American taxpayer comes out  giant loser from these tactics. The federal government, the workforce rightfully is going to be repaid, so there is no savings there. As a matter of fact, the cost of starting and stopping any enterprise is enormous. Anyone that has run any kind of business understands that. So I hope those who have advocated these tactics will come down and explain to the American taxpayer how this created a bigger deficit and explain why this made sense…

    We’ve gone through two of these self-inflicted crises. The last crisis, two or three of these, close to the fiscal cliff or close to default, the last time cost us a downgrade from one of the rating agencies. We saw yesterday, Fitch, the second rating agency, put us on negative outlook. As a former governor of the state of Virginia where we kept our triple a bond rating, you don’t get back your bond rating overnight by simply saying, ‘Oops! Never mind.’ We will be paying the price for these kind of tactics for months or maybe years to come. I’d like those who advocated these tactics to come down and answer the kind of headlines we saw in “The Financial Times” and the “Wall Street Journal,” countries that may not be that friendly to us, China and Russia and others around the world, saying we need to move away from an American-centered economy around the world, a dollar-centered economy around the world, how this hit to our reputation was somehow in the best interest of our country.

    So, Mr. President, I am glad that Leader Reid and Leader McConnell have worked out what appears to be a short-term solution. I’m glad for many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that has tried to find a common ground. It appears that we will reopen the federal government. It appears that we will avoid default and go into uncharted territory where we candidly don’t really know how bad it could have been. But, before we celebrate too much, let’s check, if reports are true, of what this avoidance of this catastrophe will mean. It means that we’ve got 90 days before the government runs out of money again. We’ve got 113 days until the debt ceiling might have to be raised again.

    So my first hope would be, as we move forward, that those who practiced the tactics of shutdown and threatening default will say never again will we put the full faith and credit of the United States of America at risk. Never again will we shut down our government, hurt our federal workforce, hurt taxpayers, hurt private businesses simply because we didn’t get what we want in a political dispute. I hope as well in these coming weeks that we’ll recognize that the people who work for the United States of America and our federal workers deserve better…

    The second thing, I hope we will go forward on is recognize that sequestration was set up to be so stupid that no rational group of people would ever let it happen. Well, we’ve let it happen about eight months so far and as challenging as it’s been over the last eight months, in this next fiscal year, which started actually on October 1, it is going to get exponentially worse. I understand the concerns of my colleagues on the other side, and my concern as well, that we’ve got to find a way to cut back some of our spending. But there are smarter ways to do it than sequestration. In this ensuing period, I hope we’re able to work through that. And I do believe we need to take these next 90 days or even a shorter period if we need to report back from a budget committee by mid-December, and recognize that this constant every three-month, six-month manufactured budget crisis does our country no good, and that both sides will enter into this next phase of negotiations with a little more sobriety, a little less willingness to call out each other by name, and actually recognize that we do have to get our balance sheet in order.

    If we want to avoid a repeat in January and February of this last couple of weeks that we’ve seen and the damage we’ve done to our country, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and recognize to get this problem behind us, we’re going to have to deal with our entitlements. It’s going to mean folks on my side of the aisle are going to have to think about how we preserve Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid in a way that’s affordable over the long haul. My friends on the other side of the aisle are going to have to realize what kind of government we want and what kind of government we’re going to be willing to pay for. As somebody who spent the last four years combing through these numbers repeatedly, I don’t think we can pay for the level of government that the American people have expected with our existing tax code. So we’re going to have to find ways to close some of these loopholes, make our tax code more pro-growth but at the same time generate more revenues than we currently have…

    So, Mr. President, it is the best of times and the worst of times. I hope we will celebrate the fact that we have done our job and avoided this calamity, but let’s make sure that we never do this again. Let’s make sure that we take this next 90 days before the next C-R expires and the 113 days before the debt ceiling comes and really get our fiscal house in order and make sure we give the American back the confidence they need to move forward. With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.”

    • Name ONE thing that was “good” about this fight? Other than the massive disruption to hundreds of thousands of federal employees’ and federal contractors’ lives, harm to millions of other Americans in a wide variety of ways, and damage to our country’s reputation and possibly credit rating? Plus, from his own perspective, Republicans took a nose dive in the polls, and Boehner himself showed himself to be nearly impotent as “Speaker.”  If that’s a “good fight,” I can’t imagine what a “bad fight” might look like!

    • KAINE STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT TO RE-OPEN THE GOVERNMENT AND PREVENT DEFAULT

      WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement tonight after voting in support of a bipartisan agreement to end the government shutdown and prevent default. The measure, which included a provision introduced by Senators Kaine and Warner to guarantee back pay for federal workers who were furloughed for the past 16 days through no fault of their own, was passed 81-18.  

      “Thanks to the bipartisan efforts of my Senate colleagues, tens of thousands of furloughed workers in Virginia will be back on the job with certainty they will be paid back for the time they were unable to work due to the needless government shutdown. I’ve always said that solving our nation’s fiscal challenges in a divided Congress will require a bipartisan process where House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, agree to compromise for the good of the country. Tonight, the Senate came together around this principle and I’m hopeful both houses will act in the same spirit as we move to the budget conference table to find a long-term fiscal solution.”

      Kaine, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, was appointed to the conference committee that will seek to resolve differences between the House and Senate budgets before December 13, as outlined in the agreement.

    • Moran Statement on Deal to End Unnecessary, Harmful Shutdown, Debt Default Scare

      Washington, DC – Congressman Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, released the following statement on the deal to reopen the government after sixteen days of closure and avert an economic disaster by raising the debt ceiling.

      “This bill brings an end to one of the most embarrassing episodes in congressional history.  House Republicans, spurred on by Tea Party-aligned members and outside groups who have exploited the Citizens United Supreme Court decision to subvert democracy, held the government hostage in an effort to destroy Obamacare.  These Tea Party actions have caused a financially damaging, demoralizing government shutdown that shook consumer confidence, and resulted in the furlough of 800,000 federal employees and employment cutbacks at nearly 85 percent of all federal contracting companies.

      “Three weeks later, $24 billion in lost economic growth and the anxiety of people wondering if and when they would receive a paycheck, we have a deal to reopen government, lift the debt ceiling…and Obamacare remains virtually untouched. Clearly, the new health law is going to need tweaking going forward. But efforts to destroy it, rather than improve it, led by charlatans like Senator Ted Cruz, willfully ignored the fact that 1) Congress signed it into law, 2) it was upheld by a conservative Supreme Court and, 3) it was a major issue in the most recent presidential election which resulted in a five million vote victory for President Obama.

      “This two week period of panic and pain has been purposeless. We are back to square one having achieved nothing but to have exposed the radical destructiveness of the so called Ted Cruz Tea Party faction within the Republican Party.”

    • First District Families Won’t Forget Rep. Wittman’s Role in Crisis

      Reacting to tonight’s pending House vote on a Congressional agreement to reopen the Federal government until January 15 and raise the Debt Ceiling until February 7, Marc Broklawski, the Chair of Virginia’s First Congressional District Democratic Committee, issued the following statement:

      It’s going to be a hard candy Christmas after a sequestration summer, followed by this autumn’s shutdown, leading up to a bleak New Year. Thanks for nothing, Congressman Wittman.

      Rep. Wittman could have been a leader and prevented this whole fiasco — and the worst thing is we could be right back here in 90 days. We’ve been through this horrible experience of a federal shutdown in the First District where people have lost nearly 3 weeks of pay. This isn’t just hurting federal workers and contractors. Small businesses from Mathews to Prince William and from Williamsburg to Fredericksburg are wounded because of this shutdown — all due to Rob Wittman’s refusal to stand up to his Tea Party pals.

      October is Bullying Prevention Month. We know that when there is a bully on the playground beating people up, the heroes aren’t the ones on the sidelines but the person who stops the bully. Congressman Wittman didn’t stop the bullies who took our country hostage. No, instead he is going to parties with them.

      At a minimum this debacle has cost the US economy 24 billion dollars. This doesn’t take into account consumer confidence taking it on the chin as we head into the biggest retail quarter of the year. It will take months to recover from the reckless Tea Party bender of the past 16 days. It might be close to Halloween, but don’t be fooled by the guy in the mask demanding tricks or treats at the door. It’s just Rob Wittman. But you don’t have to take the mask off, Congressman, we know who you really are and what you’re about — and it’s not good.

    • Rep. Connolly Statement on Bipartisan Agreement in Congress to End Government Shutdown & Avert Default

      I support this bipartisan agreement because it is long past time to end this reckless shutdown of the Federal Government. For the past two weeks, residents and small businesses across Northern Virginia have shared with me the painful effects of being furloughed, losing contract work, or having access to Medicare and veteran benefits frozen. No state was harder hit than Virginia, and Northern Virginia, with its large number of federal employees, contractors, and federal facilities, has borne a disproportionate share of the pain.

      The failure of some to compromise once again pushed us to the verge of a historic default on the nation’s credit. Even the threat of defaulting on the nation’s credit has led to disastrous effects for our region. The Fitch credit rating agency cited that hyper-partisanship when it placed the U.S. on a negative credit watch list. The last time political brinksmanship brought us to the verge of default in August 2011, it resulted in a historic downgrading of the nation’s credit, and it also jeopardized the AAA rating of several Northern Virginia jurisdictions and the Commonwealth.

      It is unconscionable for members of one caucus to hold the American people and the economy hostage simply because one faction or another does not get their way. Unlike the Tea Party members of Congress, local elected officials in my district, including Republicans, know that making government work for taxpayers is the number one priority and that taxpayers count on their government to function properly. I am pleased to have been a part of the efforts by pragmatic Democrats to reach out to moderate Republicans to initiate the discussions that helped lead to resolution of this reckless shutdown and manufactured fiscal crisis.

    • From the McAuliffe for Governor campaign:

      Tonight, the United States Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan plan to re-open the government and avoid a catastrophic default. Terry McAuliffe announced his support for passage earlier this afternoon. Ken Cuccinelli has been silent – and in fact stated earlier that he was “disappointed” with the compromise that was emerging.

      “Ken Cuccinelli has proven twice in two weeks that he cares more about his reputation with the Tea Party than he does about Virginia’s economic future,” said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin. “When responsible leaders were urging support of the plan to re-open the government and avoid default, Cuccinelli watched as his Tea Party allies opposed the plan. Instead of standing with Ted Cruz over the past two weeks, Cuccinelli should have been standing for Virginia.”

      Last week, Cuccinelli refused to publicly criticize the architect of the government shutdown who campaigned on his behalf, Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz. After being asked about his refusal, Cuccinelli defended Cruz’s tactics during the shutdown.

    • Here are the “why do you hate America” 18 Senators who voted to default on our debt, ruin our credit rating, trash the economy, etc. None of these people should ever be elected to anything ever again. Disgusting human beings, every last one of them.

      NAYs —18

      Coburn (R-OK)

      Cornyn (R-TX)

      Crapo (R-ID)

      Cruz (R-TX)

      Enzi (R-WY)

      Grassley (R-IA)

      Heller (R-NV)

      Johnson (R-WI)

      Lee (R-UT)

      Paul (R-KY)

      Risch (R-ID)

      Roberts (R-KS)

      Rubio (R-FL)

      Scott (R-SC)

      Sessions (R-AL)

      Shelby (R-AL)

      Toomey (R-PA)

      Vitter (R-LA)

    • SCOTT SUPPORTS SENATE AGREEMENT TO REOPEN GOVERNMENT AND PREVENT DEFAULT

      10/16/13

      WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement regarding his support for H.R. 2775, the Senate Agreement that reopens the federal government and prevents a default on the nation’s obligations:

      “I support this deal because it reopens the federal government, it assures that we will not default on our obligations, and it retroactively pays the hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed through no fault of their own. The deal that passed tonight should have passed months ago, but Republicans blocked every single attempt to go to conference on the budget with the Senate. Now that a conference committee has been agreed to with this deal, we are finally able to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

      “It should be clear that we can no longer afford to let a fringe element hold the nation hostage, forcing us to govern from one self-created crisis to the next. It is utterly irresponsible that Tea Party Republicans shutdown our nation’s federal government for sixteen days and then threatened a default on our nation’s obligations in a failed attempt to defund, repeal, delay, or sabotage the Affordable Care Act. If there is any take away from this unnecessary budget crisis, it should be that there are no rewards for holding our economy hostage. I just hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have learned this valuable lesson, so we don’t find ourselves in another shutdown and default crisis when this agreement expires in early 2014.

      “There are no winners with this agreement. A recent study by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation estimates that recent self-created budget crises have contributed to the loss of approximately 900,000 jobs. Since the last time Republicans toyed with default in August 2011, uncertainty about Congress’ ability to govern responsibly has grown around the world and has harmed our nation’s credibility. Standard and Poors downgraded our credit rating in 2011 despite a last minute deal and yesterday Fitch Ratings issued a warning on our credit rating. One of America’s largest brokerage firms, Fidelity Investments, recently sold all of its short-term U.S. government bonds to protect its investors. The interest rate paid by banks for day-to-day loans quadrupled since the start of this latest crisis. A four month debt ceiling extension is woefully inadequate and I fear too short to provide the necessary stability for our economy. The only thing worse than this inadequate debt ceiling extension would be no extension at all.

      “This has to change. I just hope that in the next few months we can return to regular order, pass a full year appropriation for the federal government, cancel the sequester, and pass a long-term debt ceiling extension to provide our economy with the necessary certainty it needs to grow.”