U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney said he was dissatisfied with a last-minute deal by congressional leaders on Wednesday to reopen the federal government and temporarily shelve the debt ceiling debate.
“I don’t know how you look at it as a victory,” said Mulvaney, a Republican from Indian Land who represents York, Chester and Lancaster counties. “I don’t see that as a success.”
The current agreement would fund the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 – giving Republicans and Democrats more time to reconcile on spending issues.
The bipartisan deal to end the 16-day shutdown got traction Wednesday morning after Republicans buckled on their hard-line stance against funding the Affordable Care Act.
While Mulvaney conceded the strategy failed, he stands behind his party’s decision to hold up votes on funding the government in an effort to gut the health care law, calling it a matter of equality.
“Is it worth it to take a stand for fair treatment under the law? I think so,” Mulvaney said, referring to 1,200 one-year exemptions in the law.
Republicans were fighting for legislation that would offer a similar exemption to individuals and families instead of penalizing them for violating the law, Mulvaney said.
“We don’t want to create a system where (if) you have politically powerful friends, you get treated one way, and if you don’t, you get treated another,” he said.
The exemptions cover a slim percentage of Americans and will secure health coverage for employees covered under existing bare-bones plans until the companies can provide full coverage under the health care law.
Mulvaney also downplayed the severity of the shutdown.
“It was never going to be the end of the world,” Mulvaney said. “Were people hurt by it? Sure.”
The terms of the deal also would extend the government’s borrowing power, staving off a default that economists said would spook global markets.
Mulvaney said he hopes Congress will use the time bought by the deal to start a bipartisan dialogue that reigns in spending and addresses the long-term impacts of the nation’s debt.
“The risks that we have from this debt cannot be overstated,” he said, adding that he believed the debt ceiling deadline coupling with a current shutdown is eventually what caused the parties to come to the resolution.
Mulvaney rejected the idea that the shutdown is a sign of increased congressional dysfunction.
“This is not a larger sign of a breakdown in the system, it’s part of the system,” he said. “We always tend to romanticize the past.”
Jie Jenny Zou 803-329-4062