Once the 11th-hour vote to avoid the potential default was passed by the Senate and the House and signed into law by President Obama, key players in the just-ended game of fiscal chicken began issuing their justifications and frustrations.
That game, variously called “political brinkmanship,” a “temporary fix,” “a temporary ceasefire,” and “a political achievement for Obama,” does everything the president wanted while giving almost nothing away to the Republicans. Government spending will continue into early next year, the debt ceiling debate has been postponed until early February, and as yet unnamed “negotiators” will have until December 15 to make recommendations on cutting government spending. The Republicans even lost a skirmish there, too, as “sequestration” is on the table for the negotiators’ discussion.
As David Espo, writing at Newsmax, expressed it: “The president outmaneuvered Republicans by holding firm in defense of Obamacare to win the agreement, with few strings attached.” In the House the defeat was resounding, with the Senate bill passing without modification, 285 to 144. Translation: 88 of the 232 House Republicans sided with all the House Democrats to pass the bill.
Justifications had to be made, especially since every member of the House is up for reelection next year. It was necessary that explanations be issued, and “clarifications” be spun. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who voted yes, was a prime example, although certainly not the only one. Sporting a dismal Freedom Index (FI) rating of just 45, Dent did the best he could: “This legislation must be supported, but it should not be celebrated. It’s not a win for anyone — not the Congress, nor the president.”
Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa. with an FI of 69) explained his yes vote: “I've been calling for the political brinkmanship to end, and I’m encouraged [that] there is a measure that could get to the president’s desk. Washington cannot continue to operate in perpetual crisis mode.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio and an FI of just 54), who also voted “yea," was all for forgetting the past and moving on:
Our negotiating team will pursue real reforms that address the drivers of our debt [and] get control of spending [and] put us on a path to a balanced budget … these negotiations are a big opportunity.
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Photo of U.S. senators before vote to end shutdown: AP Images