Congressman Jerry Lewis praised the compromise worked out Friday between House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Harry Reid, and said he will join fellow members in quick passage of the plan that will reduce spending by nearly $40 billion below last year's levels while funding the government to the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
"We listened to the American people and worked hard to rein in the runaway spending that was leading to a dangerously high $1.6 trillion federal deficit," Lewis said. "This plan will keep the government operating and provide some of the deepest spending reductions in history -- a down-payment on our pledge to keep the nation from drowning in red ink."
Lewis renewed a call he made earlier this week for his colleagues to quickly pass the agreement in order to avoid a shutdown of the federal government and to ensure the largest possible spending reductions. He joined other members who had been here during the 1995 and 1996 federal shutdowns in sending a "Dear Colleague" letter urging the House to support a compromise.
"We hate the idea of a shutdown -- we really don't want to go through that again," Lewis and the other members wrote. "But even more, we hate the idea of leaving trillions and trillions of dollars in debt to our children and grandchildren. We cannot continue a course that will allow government to eat away our economy."
Lewis said he understood the frustration many Americans felt over the delays in reaching the compromise, but he noted that the former Democratic majority in the House and Senate had not passed one of the 12 annual spending bills that should have been completed by the beginning of fiscal year last October 1. With the new majority in place, the House passed a yearlong spending bill by February 19, but the Senate has still not passed a single yearlong bill, he said.
Although the Senate publicly offered only partisan rhetoric, Lewis said staff members have been working behind the scenes to reach a conclusion that would avoid a federal shutdown.
"The Appropriations Committee staff has worked night and day for weeks to ensure that we could keep the government operating even as we try to reduce our terrible $1.5 trillion deficit," said Lewis, who is Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee. "I'm sure the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who can now be assured of coming to work on Monday will join me in thanking Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid for hammering out this compromise."