WASHINGTON, DC (WATE) - Congress approved a bipartisan deal Wednesday night, ending the 16 day government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling.
The Senate voted first, passing a bill 81 to 18. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill about two hours later by a vote of 285 to 144. President Obama signed the bill into law early Thursday morning.
The legislation permits the Treasury to borrow normally through February 7, or perhaps a month longer, and funds the government through Jan. 15.
The measure was a "vehicle" for passage of the bill that ended the government shutdown and raised the debt ceiling. It had originally been introduced in July by Rep. Diane Black (R) of Tennessee's 6th District regarding a completely unrelated matter.
The bill passed in a bipartisan way in both the Senate and the House. No Democrat voted against it in either chamber.
How Tennessee's Congressmen voted
|Yea||Alexander, Lamar (R)|
|Yea||Corker, Bob (R)|
Sen. Alexander issued the following statement Wednesday night:
"I voted in September against shutting down the government, and today I voted to reopen it and to make sure that the United States pays its bills on time. We need to redouble our efforts to fix our country's $16.7 trillion federal debt. We could start by passing the Corker-Alexander plan to reduce out-of-control entitlement spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years."
Sen. Corker issued a statement with similar sentiments:
"It is beyond belief that Congress chose to pursue an effort that had no chance of success and wasted time that could have been spent putting in place spending reforms that will make our country stronger. But I do consider it a victory that we forced adherence to the Budget Control Act spending restraints, which for the first time since the 1950s, have caused us to reduce total government spending for two consecutive years. There's much more work to do to get on a path to fiscal solvency, and I look forward to continuing that important work."
U.S. House of Representatives:
|Nay||Roe, Phil (R)||TN 1st District|
|Nay||Duncan, John (R)||TN 2nd District|
|Nay||Fleischmann, Chuck (R)||TN 3rd District|
|Nay||DesJarlais, Scott (R)||TN 4th District|
|Yea||Cooper, Jim (D)||TN 5th District|
|Nay||Black, Diane (R)||TN 6th District|
|Nay||Blackburn, Marsha (R)||TN 7th District|
|Nay||Fincher, Stephen (R)||TN 8th District|
|Yea||Cohen, Steve (D)||TN 9th District|
Rep. Phil Roe issued a lengthy statement on the vote, saying he was not happy with the bill passed by the Senate, and the government shutdown was caused by both parties. It reads in part:
"I am very disappointed the Senate was unable to reach an acceptable agreement. Our crippling national debt is one of the largest threats to American prosperity, and we missed an opportunity to further reduce the size of government and get out-of-control spending in check. I strongly believe that deficit reduction, either through entitlement reform or discretionary spending reductions, must be a part of any measure to raise the debt ceiling.
"We're in this situation because of the failures of both parties. This problem wasn't caused by just Democrats or just Republicans; it is the result of decades of wasteful, reckless spending, and it has to stop. When you're borrowing more than 40 cents on every dollar you spend, you have a problem. It's not sustainable."
In a phone interview with 6 News, Roe said the focus on defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act wasn't the best strategy.
"We lost that so obviously it wasn't a strategy that people bought into but there's no question in my mind that Obamacare is going to add tremendously to the deficit," Roe said.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said the bill did not address what be believes is the nation's overspending.
"Tonight's vote was yet another move to kick the can down the road and does nothing to address our unmanageable debt," said Fleischmann. "While I strongly believe the government has an obligation to pay its bills, we also have an obligation to address the true fiscal crisis facing our great nation. Until we take a serious look at the mandatory spending that's driving our debt we will continue to face these self-inflicted debt crises."
Fleischmann also said the strategy was flawed.
"It would have probably been a better strategy to focus on what I've been focusing on all along, which is we've got to get overall federal spending under control," Fleischmann said.
"It would have probably been a better strategy to focus on what I've been focusing on all along which is we've got to get overall federal spending under control."