DENVER — In the end, all but one member of the Colorado congressional delegation voted in support of the legislation to re-open the government and avoid a potentially catastrophic default on the nation’s debts, which passed both the House and Senate Wednesday night.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, voted against the legislation, which passed the House on a vote of 285-144, with nearly all Democrats and roughly half of the House Republicans voting yes.
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, was the first of Colorado’s four House Republicans to signal his support for the measure in an interview earlier Wednesday with FOX31 Denver.
Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Grand Junction, gave little indication of how they’d vote even as they took to the House floor, where they ultimately voted to support the proposal, which includes legislation to raise a cap on federal disaster relief dollars that can go to Colorado victims of last month’s devastating floods.
Coffman, unlike his colleagues, represents a district that’s evenly split among Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters, leaving him one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress heading into next year’s midterm elections.
Lamborn, on the flip side, represents one of the safest seats in the country and, like many of the House conservatives who forced Speaker John Boehner to lead their charge to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government, would only be politically vulnerable in a potential Republican primary, not in a general election.
Ironically, Lamborn represents Colorado Springs, the U.S. city most affected by the shutdown — nearly 20 percent of its workforce is employed by the federal government — given its high number of residents who work at nearby military installations.
On Thursday, Colorado Democrats called his vote “moronic.”
“Yet again, Congressman Lamborn’s vote is an embarrassment to the people of Colorado, and a slap in the face to the thousands of active duty service members; veterans, and other dedicated public servants in El Paso County,” Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio said in a statement.
All three Democrats from Colorado, Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver, Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder and Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden, voted in favor of the legislation.
Here are the official statements released Wednesday evening by all seven members of the Colorado House delegation:
Coffman: “I’m supporting this agreement tonight because Washington has been frozen by partisan gridlock in both political parties. This proposal is a bipartisan compromise that reopens the Federal Government and requires we begin negotiations to reduce our nation’s rising debt. Essentially, this proposal says we’re done fighting and we’re ready to begin an honest discussion about solutions for reducing the debt.”
DeGette: “The bill I voted for tonight is far from perfect, but it fulfills our most basic obligations to keep the federal government running and pay our nation’s bills. While it was the eleventh hour, I am pleased the House Republican Majority decided to end the partisan games and avoid devastating our economy. Unfortunately, in the past 16 days, collateral damage has already been done. Since the government shut down, our economy has lost billions of dollars, while 800,000 hard-working Americans were furloughed, fearful they would not be able to pay their bills and uncertain of how to support their families. The looming threat of defaulting on our debts caused uncertainty in the markets and a loss of confidence around the globe.”
“Nonetheless, tonight I am glad we avoided even greater financial disaster, as the Republican Leadership fulfilled their most basic obligation, finally allowing a vote on this legislation.”
“With passage we now have the time to work together on a bipartisan, bicameral budget that is fiscally responsible and pays for the needs of our country. As we negotiate common-sense, reasonable budget solutions, I particularly look forward to eliminating the blunt instrument of the sequester that has been a drag on our nation’s economy for months.”
“Now is our opportunity for the grand bargain we have been talking about for far too long; one which solidifies our recovery while ensuring our long-term economic strength, and one which gives our business community the certainty they require to help our nation thrive and grow. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the coming weeks to avoid another crisis and to secure America’s strength for the 21st century.”
Gardner: “America does not default on its debt. We pay our bills. Our nation is tired of the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, and rightfully so. Over two weeks have elapsed since the government shut down, and it is time for us to move forward as a nation and ensure that we pay our debts on time. The economic impact of a default would be dire, and would result in, among other things, an increase in interest rates. A one-percent increase in interest would add over $120 billion a year in debt.
“While this bill does retain the largest spending cuts in a generation – the sequester – this short-term spending measure and debt limit increase does not address our long term fiscal problems, plain and simple. This is why within the past two weeks I began working with Democrats and Republicans on an honest proposal to lower our debt, cut spending, reform our tax code, and fix our broken entitlement system in order to give our children and grandchildren a thriving America. I believe this plan will be our solution going forward as it also contains a series of enforcement mechanisms to ensure that Congress actually follows through with its job to make sure we are not stuck in another cycle of shutdowns and showdowns – it incentivizes members of both parties to work together. This framework is a far better solution than the short term measure passed tonight.
“Coloradans, especially those who have been impacted by the disastrous flooding, can rest a little easier knowing that they too are included in this legislation. I have been working night and day to ensure that Coloradans receive the disaster assistance they need to stabilize and rebuild their lives and communities. When it came to light that funding caps would need to be raised in order for Colorado to receive all of the money it required to rebuild its roads and bridges, I led the charge in the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would raise those caps, and the legislation passed unanimously.
“The rollout of Obamacare has been nothing short of disastrous. Forcing Americans to legally purchase a product that has proven nearly impossible to purchase boggles the mind. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have exempted unions, big businesses, and Congress – why not offer this same treatment to the American people as well? That is why I remain committed to fully repealing and replacing Obamacare, as I have been since I began serving in this body. Its effect on our healthcare system, economy, and quality of care that Americans receive will be felt by everyone. This law must be stopped and I will do everything I can to stop it. Now we will be able to focus on the train wreck this bill truly is.
“As a country and as a Congress, we can do better, and future generations of Americans expect nothing less. It is far past time for us to put our country on a path to fiscal solvency – one in which we pay down our debt, reform our tax code, and create an environment in which a pro-growth economy will thrive.”
Lamborn: “I am disappointed President Obama and Senate Democrats resisted every effort House Republicans put forward to reform government spending and bring more fairness to middle class Americans stuck with the cost of ObamaCare. But our cause is worth fighting for and I will continue to fight reckless spending in Washington.
“My constituents are calling me with nightmare stories about skyrocketing healthcare premiums as a result of ObamaCare. Businesses are only hiring part-time workers to avoid the ObamaCare mandates and penalties. I remain committed to protecting all Americans from this oppressive law.
“I don’t believe our efforts here have been in vain. We have called attention to the need to reform federal spending and to bring more fairness to ObamaCare. I remain hopeful that the fight will continue and will gain strength from the American people in the coming months and years.”
Perlmutter: “Tonight I voted in favor of a bi-partisan bill to reopen the government, pay our bills and reinstate hard working Americans in their jobs. Though we could have avoided this crisis altogether by voting on this very measure 2 ½ weeks ago, I am relieved it’s happening now. Additionally, I hope we get to work immediately on finding a bi-partisan budget solution, something like a Simpson-Bowles plan which I support, in hopes of avoiding this type of crisis in the future.”
Polis: “After 16 days, the House FINALLY voted on a bill to not only reopen the government immediately, but also to increase the debt ceiling before tomorrow’s looming default deadline. It’s about time.
“Hundreds of thousands of federal employees can finally get back to work and government agencies, like FEMA and the National Park Service, can fully function and serve the people.
“When Congress pats itself on the back for solving a problem entirely of its own making, you know something is very wrong with the picture.
“It is simply unacceptable that it took 16 full days of uncertainty to come to an agreement that was basically laid out on day one. I hope this senseless government shutdown teaches the more reckless elements that we should responsibly work together to improve the lives of Coloradans and all Americans without resorting to punching ourselves in the face.
“I am proud to say the bill we passed today also raises the cap on emergency relief transportation funding so Colorado is able to repair road damage caused by last month’s horrendous flooding.
“All of the above is good news. The bad news is that this bill is just a short-term extension and we will be facing another government closure and debt default in just three months. I will encourage and engage in meaningful negotiations to restore sustained fiscal integrity to the federal government and balance our budget rather than continuing to govern crisis to crisis.
“The Hippocratic Oath that all doctors take is ‘do no harm’ maybe the United States Congress should incorporate that into the oath of office.”
Tipton: “We have voted every way possible to repeal, defund and replace Obamacare in the House. Some even thought that a government shutdown would stop it. But as we’ve seen over the past two weeks, while some government functions have ceased during the shutdown, Obamacare has continued unaffected. Our Constitution lays out the legislative process very clearly, and to pass or change a law (including Obamacare) we need the House, Senate and the President to act. While spending bills originate in the House, the Senate and President must also act. When the legislative process fails, gridlock ensues and unintended consequences can occur—such as a default on our national debt, damage to our economy, lost jobs and an extended government shutdown.
“There have been many opinions on the best way to stop Obamacare and it’s important to remember that a difference in tactics is not a difference in principle. There is no question that Obamacare is raising costs and decreasing access to care in this country, and that it must be replaced. The person who ought to be concerned most about the end of the government shutdown is Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who will now have to explain to the American people why the implementation of Obamacare is going so drastically wrong. The fight to effectively repeal and replace Obamacare moves forward and I will continue to vote to stop this bad law.
“Today’s agreement includes positive steps to extend responsible spending reforms, prevent a national default on nearly $17 trillion of U.S. debt, and reopen the government. It protects the economy and sets the stage for further budget negotiations to address our nation’s spending crisis. Our nation is facing a staggering national debt, and this plan continues to address the debt by extending sequester-level spending reforms. For the first time since the Korean War, the federal government is set to actually spend less for two consecutive years, and recent spending reforms resulted in an upgrade of the United States credit rating by Moody’s earlier this year. We have taken some positive steps toward addressing our nation’s debt and we must continue to fight for responsible spending reforms and extend those we’ve been able to achieve so far.”