WASHINGTON D.C. - It’s over. Congress finally passed a bill that will open the shuttered government and increase the debt limit – at least for a short time.
The Senate voted 81-18 Wednesday night to pass the bipartisan bill, and the House voted 285-144.
The bill funds the budget through Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling through at least Feb. 7.
But it seems the great divide between the political party’s remains, if statements released by two senators from Florida are any indication.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson released a statement praising Wednesday night’s action by Congress.
“Thank goodness, not just for the thousands and thousands of Americans who have been hurting because of the disruption in government services, but thank goodness for our nation’s economic well-being,” the democrat from Florida said. “I’m relieved about this shutdown being over and certainly relieved that we have avoided a default of the financial integrity of this country, but this never should have happened in the first place. A couple of senators and a handful of House extremists have managed to embarrass America in front of the world.
“And with this government shutdown and coming right to the precipice on a default, they showed a lack of compassion but they also showed a lack of understanding about what it means to be a public official and what it means to represent and serve the interests of all, not just a few,” Nelson continued.
“A public office is a public trust. And no public servant should ever deny government services to people in need. No public servant should ever take his own country hostage to advance his own narrow, selfish ideology.
“So for now, we can breathe a sigh of relief. But this is going to crank up again, starting in December, January and February – the deadlines of this agreement. We just can’t keep continuing putting our country in situations like this. We’ve got to find a way, right soon, to govern ourselves without being at the mercy of a few partisan extremists. Congress has a responsibility to cast aside extremism and reach out to find common ground, reason and common sense. We owe no less to our people in this country."
Before the vote, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio issued a statement of his own that said the real crisis remains.
“It now appears that at some point this evening, we will reach the end of the latest Washington manufactured crisis of the month. But unfortunately, the real crisis facing our country remains. And that real crisis is the growing sense among our people that we are losing the American Dream,” Rubio said.
The Republican senator continued, “I know of no one in my party who supported shutting down the government. On the contrary, we argued that we should fund the entire government except for one thing, ObamaCare. In fact, the House of Representatives passed a law that did just that. But the Democrats took the position that either we fund ObamaCare or we fund nothing at all. They took the position that funding ObamaCare was more important than funding the government.
“They were willing to put our country through this government shutdown just to save their pet project. Within days of this showdown, by the way, a second issue was added to this, the federal debt limit. The press portrays the debt limit as simply a law that allows us to pay our bills. And therefore, they fall for the argument that failing to raise the debt limit equals a default on our debt. But the debt limit is a lot more than just simply permission to pay our bills.
“Congress is the power of the purse. It’s under our Constitution. It gives the Congress the power to decide what to spend money on and what not to spend money on from the taxpayer.”