Senator Carper reacts to end of partial government shutdown

By Kelly April Tyrrell, Amy Cherry 4:04pm, October 17, 2013
Sen. Carper talks with WDEL's Amy Cherry.
Leaders in Congress finally negotiated an end to the impasse that left most of the government shuttered for more than two weeks.

Members of the Republican party, unhappy with the Affordable Care Act -- considered one of Obama's landmark achievements -- refused to consent to a national budget for the next fiscal year unless changes to the law were made.

Democrats, unwilling to negotiate, refused to give in to the demands.

But the 16-day partial government shutdown came to an end last night. After an 81 to 18 vote in the Senate and a 285 to 144 approval in the House, President Obama signed a bill to reopen the federal government and avoid defaulting on the nation's debt.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees, furloughed by the partial shutdown, were able to return to work Thursday.

Senator Tom Carper, an architect of the Affordable Care Act, expressed his thoughts Thursday on the breakthrough that came Wednesday night.

"We're happy the government is open, we're paying our bills," the long-time politician said. "I think the most important thing of all, though, is that a conference committee has been created... the idea of which is to create a long-term budget solution for our country."

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This shutdown is not the first challenge Congress has had this year in trying to reach compromise. In March, the country was hit with across-the-board budget cuts, known as the sequester, when Congress couldn't agree on a plan to reduce the nation's deficit.

While Carper said he never thought the government would actually shut down, he blamed it on a small vocal minority in Congress who shuttered the government when they didn't get their way.

"I never thought it would happen, I never thought the government shutdown would begin," he said. "My hope is that we just don't see in future years, future generations, that small vocal minorities that don't get their way don't just try to shut down the government."

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The key, Carper said, is not to take a "my way or the highway" approach. Leaders need to govern from the middle, he said.

"We've had too much of this stop-and-go, fiscal cliff, lurching from one crisis to the other, that's no good," said Carper. "And we have the potential now to actually stop that."

"My hope is that we'll not waste this opportunity."

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