Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware

Sep 30 2013

Hours to a shutdown

Beginning at midnight tonight, our government will officially be closed for business because a number of Congressional Republicans refuse to accept that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, despite the fact it has passed Congress, has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and was a key point of debate during the 2012 elections, which President Obama won handily. My Democratic colleagues and I have shown repeatedly that we are willing to debate and vote on a number of important issues, including looking for reasonable ways to improve the Affordable Care Act, but to demand changes to a law that has been debated and litigated repeatedly in the Congress, in the courts, and across the country and still upheld as a condition for fulfilling our basic obligation to fund the government is unreasonable and unacceptable. I hope House Republicans will quickly come to the realization that their recent political posturing is irresponsible and is jeopardizing our economic recovery.

While I am relieved that Congress has adopted a measure to ensure that our military men and women will receive their pay during a shutdown, I am still concerned about the impact that this shutdown will have on our service members and civilian defense workers, their families, and our veterans, all of whom have already sacrificed so much for our nation. 

This is an embarrassing and avoidable failure that highlights the dysfunction that has dominated Congress for the past several years. It is completely inappropriate for the basic operation of our government – and the health of our economy for that matter -- to be used as a political pawn. The bipartisan bill that the Senate passed on Friday and sent back to the House of Representatives again today is a straightforward, noncontroversial piece of legislation that continues funding our government at current levels for the next six weeks, giving lawmakers additional time to work out an agreement for the long term funding of our government.

Our current method of stop-gap, crisis governing is the most inefficient and expensive way to govern. Both Democrats and Republicans have to realize that this is not a zero-sum game. We need to do better and we can if we begin working together once again and stop these needless acts of political brinkmanship.

One of my core values is to never give up and I won’t give up on the belief that common sense and cooperation can still be found in the halls of Congress.  Regardless of whether or not we shutdown the government tomorrow, I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a reasonable solution that ends the political games, funds our government and continues to protect the access to health care for thousands of Delawareans and millions of Americans provided by the Affordable Care Act.

One of the the things that pains me the most about this shutdown is that it will affect the people of Delaware directly. Like millions of federal employees, a majority of my staff won’t be able to work during the shutdown. As such, my staff and I will be unable to respond to your phone calls and emails during this time. Please know that I will be working with my congressional colleagues to find a responsible way to end this shutdown as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

TC Signature