After 16 days of a government shutdown that kept vital services behind locked doors for the public, paychecks out of the pockets of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and pushed the economy to the brink of disaster, the Republican government shutdown ended last night when the Senate (81–18) and House (285–144) passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a bill to fund and reopen the government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:
While it is good news that we have avoided a crisis, we all know that it should never have happened. No party or faction inside a party should hold our economy hostage to extract political gains.
AFGE President J. David Cox said the bill would “put our members back to work and restore the services American taxpayers count on.” But because it only funds the government through Jan. 15 and lifts the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, Cox said the agreement is a:
Brief reprieve from the suffering federal employees and their families have endured for the past 16 days. We cannot accept another government shutdown in just a few short weeks; federal workers and the public they serve have suffered enough.
The bill—which was negotiated in the Senate—also calls for Senate and House negotiations to reach a long-term federal budget and also continues the sequester, with even deeper cuts due next year. Damon Silvers, director of policy and special counsel for the AFL-CIO, tweeted last night:
Trumka said it’s time to “move on to address urgent national priorities.”
We must pass comprehensive immigration reform, so that 11 million aspiring Americans are no longer second-class citizens and the rights of all workers are protected. We need to grow our way out of a slow economy by investing in infrastructure, creating good jobs with good benefits and rebuilding our struggling middle class. In order to create good jobs we cannot continue to give tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs. Building economic security also means making retirement for millions of Americans more secure—and not cutting benefits for critical programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Cox called the tea party Republicans who engineered the crisis in an attempt to cripple the Affordable Care Act and enact cuts to Social Security and Medicare “a radical group of hostage takers.”
Those who perpetrated this inexcusable catastrophe on the American people should be turned out of office in 2014.