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The first government shutdown in more than a decade came to an end last week with input from Pennsylvanian congressmen on both sides of the aisle.
The shutdown lasted 16 days, and after more than 80 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives broke ranks to pass a Senate-originated resolution, the government reopened its doors, reopening national parks and museums and bringing furloughed government workers back to work.
In the U.S. Senate, the body voted to end the shutdown, while providing provisions to temporarily increase the debt ceiling, with a vote of 81- 18. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) voted in favor of ending the shutdown, while Pennsylvania’s Republican senator, Pat Toomey, voted with 17 other Republican senators against the continuing resolution to fund the government, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
In a statement released after the Senate voted to end the shutdown, Casey expressed his pleasure that the Senate had reached a bipartisan agreement.
“I am grateful that the Senate was able to move forward with a bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and avoid default,” Casey said. “Pennsylvanians deserve better than the irresponsible brinksmanship they saw over the last few weeks. I hope this experience will help change the tone in Washington and that members on both sides of the aisle will refocus their efforts on creating jobs and strengthening the economy. I intend to work immediately to push bipartisan legislation to help middle class families like my Small Business Tax Certainty and Growth Act.”
On the Republican side, Toomey said in a statement that, although he favored reopening the government, he did not favor raising the debt ceiling or funding the Affordable Care Act.
“The one major redeeming aspect of this bill is that it reopens the government,” Toomey said. “I disagreed with the plan to make funding the government contingent on defunding ‘Obamacare,’ and I am glad this bill will get the shutdown behind us. But I cannot support piling hundreds of billions of dollars of debt on current and future generations of Americans without even a sliver of reform to start putting our fiscal house in order.”
After the bill passed the Senate, it moved to the House of Representatives where Speaker of the House John Boehner allowed an hour of debate before bringing the bill to a vote. With less than two hours before midnight and the looming deadline of potential default, the House voted 285 to 144.
In Pennsylvania, all five of the Democratic representatives in the state voted with all of the Democrats in the House to raise the debt ceiling and end the shutdown. In the Pennsylvania GOP representation, however, nine Republicans broke ranks and voted with their Democratic colleagues.
Rep. Charlie Dent, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, Rep. Jim Gerlach and Rep. Pat Meehan voted across party lines, as expected based on their previously announced support for a continuing resolution stripped of a provision to defund or delay Obamacare.
Five more Pennsylvania Republicans of more conservative backgrounds joined Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach and Meehan in support of a debt ceiling increase. Rep. Bill Shuster, who represents Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district and Indiana, voted with Reps. Lou Barletta, Mike Kelly, Tim Murphy and Glenn “GT” Thompson.
“Defaulting on the government’s debt would be reckless and was simply not an option,” Shuster said in a statement.
“The economic cost would have been astounding. A default would cost $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, and the trickle-down impact on hardworking Americans, including my constituents, would have been devastating.”
Joining the 144 Republicans in disagreement with raising the debt ceiling were northeastern Pennsylvania’s Rep. Tom Marino, south central Pennsylvania’s Rep. Scott Perry, southeastern Pennsylvania’s Joe Pitts and western Pennsylvania’s Keith Rothfus.
Rothfus, who represents the 12th district, which neighbors Indiana, expressed frustration with the lack of negotiation between the two parties on the matter of the debt ceiling.
“Like many Western Pennsylvanians, I am frustrated with the constant governing by crisis in Washington, D.C.,” Rothfus said. “I am disappointed that President Obama and Senator Reid refused to negotiate on reforms to address our nation’s nearly $17 trillion national debt and the special deal for senators and representatives.”