Obama: Government Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Crisis ‘Encouraged Our Enemies’
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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — It took 16 days, but Congress approved a last-minute deal Wednesday to end the government shutdown and avoid a potential U.S. default.
The bipartisan bill, which President Barack Obama signed early Thursday, funds the federal government through Jan. 15 and allows the Treasury Department to borrow normally through Feb. 7.
Obama said Thursday morning that Americans are “fed up with Washington” following the bickering between the parties.
“There are no winners here,” Obama said.
Obama said that they still don’t know the full scope of the damage the government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis had, but America will get back on its feet.
“We’ll bounce back from this, we always do,” Obama said.
Obama blamed some extreme members of Congress saying they felt a shutdown and default would actually strengthen the American economy.
The government shutdown “encouraged our enemies” and “emboldened our competitors,” Obama said.
Obama told lawmakers to “win an election” instead of trying to tear down something they don’t like with the Affordable Care Act.
“If you don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election,” Obama stated. “Push to change it but don’t break it. But don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building.”
Obama said his top three priorities will be a budget deal, immigration reform and passing a farm bill.
“Let’s work together to make government better, instead of treating it like an enemy, or purposely making it work worse,” Obama said.
Obama concluded his speech with the final line of the Pledge of Allegiance: “One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The Senate approved the legislation by an 81-18 vote; the House followed suit by a tally of 285-144, with 87 Republicans in favor and 144 against, breaking an informal rule that a majority of the majority party is supposed to carry legislation. Democrats unanimously supported the bill, even though it locks in funding at levels required by across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.
Before Obama spoke, congressional budget leaders met Thursday morning to discuss the upcoming budget talks.
“Talking doesn’t guarantee success,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, told The Associated Press. “But if you don’t get together, obviously you don’t move forward.”
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the group’s goal was “to get this debt under control, to do smart deficit reduction, and to do things that we think will grow the economy and get people back to work.”
As part of their pact, the two sides agreed to try to reach a budget deal on spending levels and possible deficit reduction, an agreement that has been difficult for the two parties to clinch in the past. The bargainers are to report by Dec. 15.
The partial government shutdown cast a spotlight on Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who had precipitated the crises with their demand that President Barack Obama gut his 3-year-old health care law.
Cruz, a freshman who engaged in a 21-hour talkathon and egged on House Republicans for the fight, was unapologetic and critical of his GOP Senate colleagues.
“Imagine a different world,” Cruz said in a Senate speech. “If all 46 Senate Republicans had stood together and said, we are united against the train wreck that is Obamacare.”
In fact, all Senate Republicans oppose the law; what they had challenged was the two senators’ tactics.
Lee offered no regrets, vowing to continue the fight to repeal the health care law. “This is not over,” he said in a Senate speech.
Their defiance has been wildly cheered by outside conservative groups that have made money on the months-long dispute and the far right flank that hails Cruz and Lee for what they call a principled, courageous stand.
Investors warn that despite the debt ceiling deal there could be a pullback because lawmakers will have the same fight months from now.
Lawmakers “are only deferring, not triaging, the situation,” Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist with broker-dealer Janney Montgomery Scott, told CBS News. “That leaves me with some trepidation that we’ll be revisiting this in the not too distant future.”
The Dow dropped more than 100 points shortly after the opening bell.
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