Reporting Craig Dellimore
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CHICAGO (CBS) – After helping negotiate a bipartisan deal to end the partial federal government shutdown, and extend the debt limit, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said he hopes House Republicans learned a lesson: “this is unacceptable.”
“We have got to sit down in a mature, bipartisan way, and solve our problems,” he said. “I hope that Speaker [John] Boehner and the House Republicans have learned a valuable lesson: this is unacceptable. And we need to come together to solve our problems.”
Durbin said there were no winners in the battle over shutting down the federal government, but reporters in Chicago asked whether Republicans were the losers, after failing to get any major changes they sought to the Affordable Care Act.
“I have to say that the Republican strategy of shutting down the government, running the risk of defaulting on our debt, was a complete disaster,” he said. “The Tea Party has been discredited, but still they are a faction within the House Republicans, and Boehner is enthralled by them. So many times he’s turned his back on his country, turned his back on the House, turned his back on a majority of the Republican members of the House, to listen to a handful of Tea Party disgruntled people. That is unacceptable.”
Asked if Republicans would pay for that in the 2014 elections, Durbin said “let the voters make that decision.”
“The numbers suggest the voters believe they’re responsible for it, but I hope they’ve learned a lesson. This is not the way to run a great nation. Shutting down our government, diminishing our role in the world, reducing our credit rating — that hurts ordinary Americans and working families,” Durbin said.
Durbin was in the U.S. House of Representatives during the last federal government shutdown in 1996, and while that shutdown lasted slightly longer, Durbin said the effects of the latest shutdown were more serious.
“This was dramatically worse. There were more victims of this Republican shutdown. This notion that we could take 800,000 federal employees and furlough them? That we could deny services to millions of Americans? That no one would notice? Why, of course we noticed,” Durbin said.
The agreement on funding the government lasts only through Jan. 15, and the extension of the debt ceiling lasts only through Feb. 7, leaving many to question whether there will be a repeat of the Congressional stalemate in a few months. When you have a family — 17 families — notified that they’ve lost a loved one in combat in the military, who can’t receive their military benefits, as promised — that is a complete disgrace.”
Durbin, however, said he believes the public won’t allow that to happen.
“If the American people speak up, and say to Speaker Boehner ‘This is unacceptable,’ that will make a difference,” he said. “And then they have the last word. Come the election in November of next year, the American voters have the last word.”
The only member of the Illinois congressional delegation to vote against the deal was U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), who said it does nothing to reduce the massive federal debt.
–CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.