Last night, we finally voted to reopen the federal government and preserve America's commitment to pay its bills on time and in full. I am relieved this standoff has ended, but find no cause for celebration. Congress deserves no special credit for belatedly achieving the absolute minimum required of us.
Sadly, over the past few weeks, the intransigence of a reckless faction within the Republican party - which is obsessed with undoing the health care reform law - caused an unnecessary and unfair disruption to the lives of everyday Americans. It impacted small businesses attempting to secure loans, children seeking medical treatment at NIH, seniors applying for Social Security benefits, and it upended the lives of thousands of middle class families whose jobs are directly or indirectly tied to the federal government. According to a Standard & Poor's survey, the government shutdown cost our economy $24 billion. Since elected to Congress, I cannot remember a time when any group of lawmakers has acted so irresponsibly.
I understand why so many Americans have become frustrated with politics in general and have the perspective that Congress is a lost cause. I urge you to resist that impulse, which only serves to embolden those who are willing to engage in dangerous brinksmanship. We must end this troubling trend of governance by manufactured crisis so we can get back to the people's business and begin addressing the many challenges facing our nation.
I will keep working to foster a different climate in Congress, one in which constructive debate and principled compromise carry the day. Unfortunately, the same obstructionists who were in the chamber yesterday are still there today. They remain determined to achieve 100 percent of their ideological agenda - no matter the collateral damage to our economy, our reputation around the world, or the proper functioning of our democratic institutions. That is the reason it is so important that everyday, hardworking Americans continue to send the message that you expect better from your government. Informed debate is the beating heart of a strong democracy.
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