NORTH LITTLE ROCK — A small group of Republicans in Congress “embarrassed America” with the standoff that led to a 16-day government shutdown, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor said Thursday.
A spokesman for the likely Republican challenger to Pryor’s re-election bid, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, blamed Democrats for the shutdown and said Cotton would continue his fight to rein in runaway government spending.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Arkansas section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Pryor said the refusal of House Republicans to accept a budget deal unless it repealed or defunded the Affordable Care Act led to a shutdown that was costly for taxpayers and accomplished nothing that Republicans wanted.
“They came across as childish and petty. I don’t care about that as much — if they want to embarrass themselves that’s their prerogative — but what really bothers me, and I think it bothers people all over our state and all over the country, is they embarrassed America,” the senator said.
The deal that passed the House and Senate late Wednesday night, with support from all six members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation, funds the government through Jan. 15 and extends the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. It calls for formal negotiations to begin between the House and Senate on a budget resolution, as well as a requirement to verify income for those obtaining federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Cotton spokesman Justin Brasell noted that the House sent over at least four compromise bills during the standoff, one of which would have delayed the health care reform law known as Obamacare for one year for individuals, giving them the same grace period that the Obama administration gave large employers and big businesses.
“We sent over compromise bills that the Senate voted down. Unfortunately, Sen. Pryor, rather than cast a vote that would have opened the government, sided with Harry Reid and Senate Democrats on a party-line vote,” Brasell said.
“The bill that passed the House last night is not perfect, but it does accomplish some things. It preserves annual spending caps and allows for negotiations to address out-of-control spending,” he said, adding that Cotton would “use the time he has now to try to keep fighting for Arkansas taxpayers who want real spending reforms.”