On Wednesday, Congress finally ended the first government shutdown in 17 years and averted a default on our financial obligations.
There is no doubt that the shutdown took its toll on Ventura County. From furloughs at Naval Base Ventura County, to the failure to reauthorize important Farm Bill programs, to the threat of cuts to Impact Aid that help fund education for our military families, we felt the sting locally. Nationwide the cost to our economy is estimated to be in the billions.
As our economy suffered, Speaker Boehner fumbled to figure out what it was all about. It was originally portrayed as an attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act, but when that failed, it morphed from one bill to another, from one message to another, from one failed strategy to another. The country and the entire world watched with consternation.
What was it about and what did John Boehner get out of it? Not much. He aligned himself with the Tea Party members of his caucus and let them run amok. In the end, the government reopened, the default was averted, and the damage done to the Republican Party brand was severe.
And that’s as it should be. When a small faction of one party is willing to hold the entire world economy hostage out of ideological zealotry, it cannot be tolerated, and it certainly cannot be rewarded.
In the House, Democrats voted unanimously for the bill that reopened the government and averted the default, along with 87 moderate Republicans.
This is where I find hope. When Democrats and moderate Republicans work together, we have proven that we can find common ground. From passage of the Violence Against Women Act, the FOR VETS Act, and the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act, to important federal funding for disaster assistance and ending this shameful temper tantrum from the Tea Party Members of Congress, Democrats and many of my Republican colleagues came together to move our country forward.
In fact, there is a lot we can agree on.
Together, we can pass comprehensive immigration reform that will strengthen our economy. We can negotiate a Farm Bill that helps both our growers and our families in need. We can strengthen Social Security and Medicare, while keeping the promises made to our seniors. And together, we can craft a budget that creates jobs, invests in our children’s future, modernizes our infrastructure, reduces the debt and deficit, and creates economic prosperity for all American families.
Let’s remember: our country is strongest when we work together to achieve common goals. Rather than dwell on this recent low point in our national political discourse, I believe we can learn from it by redoubling our efforts to work together toward a brighter future.