A vote to reopen government for all taxpayers, pay our bills on time
first time in more than two weeks, every federal employee was sent back
to work this morning to do the jobs hard-working taxpayers pay them to
Jobs such as helping veterans qualify for disability compensation earned through tremendous sacrifice and exemplary service to our country. Reopening government means making sure businesses and contractors that provide an array of goods and services to assist our troops, build our roads, bridges and highways and keep this country running are paid for their work so that paychecks to private-sector employees are not held in limbo.
The 16-day partial federal government shutdown never should have happened. Not because I and my House colleagues want to surrender the fight to eliminate wasteful Washington spending, shrink the size and cost of government and work on real health care reform that puts patients first rather than expanding the power of the federal government. The shutdown never should have happened because it wasn't a solution -- just one more problem created by Washington.
So that's why I voted last night -- along with 284 of my House colleagues -- to reopen the federal government and pay all of our bills by passing H.R. 2775, the Continuing Appropriations Act. The President signed it into law shortly after the House vote (Roll Call #550).
This law provides discretionary appropriations to fund the federal government through January 15, 2014, and suspends the federal debt ceiling through February 7, 2014. And a House-Senate joint conference committee, led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, will immediately begin working on a federal budget, which is necessary for ending this continuous cycle of short-term budget resolutions that produce one crisis after another. In addition, this joint committee will be an opportunity to work on bipartisan solutions for overhauling our tax code to make it fairer and more pro-growth and addressing Washington's spending-driven debt addiction, which has created a toxic environment for jobs and economic opportunity.
In summary, I voted for this law because it eliminates the serious risk of greater economic chaos. Chaos that threatened to wipe out retirement savings for middle-class families and make it even harder for businesses of all sizes to hire and grow. My vote does not end my work – or terminate Congress’ responsibility -- to provide relief to families facing the loss of health insurance as a result of the President's health care law or the millions of Americans reeling from watching their jobs eliminated and their hours slashed because the health care law is incentivizing a shift to a part-time workforce.
This vote does fulfill a solemn duty all elected officials have to work as hard as possible to produce practical solutions and put the interests of the people we are privileged to represent ahead of blind partisanship.
Specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will first have to verify that individuals qualify for an Obamacare subsidy before sending out any subsidy checks. The President and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had been planning to simply rely on the "honor system" for sending out these subsidies. The Wall Street Journal called the Administration's approach "liar subsidies."
In this op-ed published by National Review Online, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee said the push for income-verification prior to distributing subsidies was "an Obamacare battle we can win."
I supported the No Subsidies Without Verification Act, to eliminate the subsidy "honor system" and that bill passed the House last month by a vote of 235-191 (Roll Call #458).
Taxpayers work too darn hard to have the federal government issue checks based on an honor system. Demanding verification and eliminating this honor system is the right approach, and I’m glad that we took this simple step to prevent fraud and improper payments. I look forward to continue working on other sensible approaches to fighting fraud and saving taxpayers money in all areas of the federal government.