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October 19, 2013

Higgins calls government shutdown a 'disgrace'

Tonawanda News — AMHERST — The day after Congress voted to end the government shutdown, Rep. Brian Higgins addressed the Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce and called the past three weeks “highly discouraging” for the country.

“We as a country have more potential than what we are seeing in D.C.,” he said. “To shut down the government ... to try to deflect blame ... is a disgrace.”

After 16 days of shutdown, President Barack Obama signed a bill to reopen the federal government and lift the debt ceiling in the early hours of Thursday. The deal, which sent 800,000 furloughed employees back to work, made no changes in the president’s health care law, which Republicans previously demanded. 

The bill extends government funding through Jan. 15 and raises the debt limit until Feb. 7.

Higgins, D-Buffalo, said Friday that the issue centered around a continuing resolution that would have instated current funding levels until a new bill was passed.

“We had plenty of votes in both houses to approve that,” he said. “But John Boehner allowed 30 or 40 extremist Republicans to dictate the situation.”

One luncheon attendee asked Higgins how the two parties can work together — specifically, in three months when the issue is likely to come up again.

“There seems to be a more reasonable way to resolve this,” the questioner said, likely echoing the thoughts of many Americans who dealt with the effects of the shutdown.

“I’m hoping that rationality will prevail in the coming weeks, and that in the end, common sense will prevail,” Higgins responded. 

Much of the discussion in the recent weeks centered on raising the debt limit, a move some Republicans opposed in an effort to limit spending. Failure to do so would have resulted in a first-ever defaulting on U.S. debt and likely would have triggered a significant economic downturn. 

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