Rep. John Lewis made this statement early this morning after the federal government was shutdown for the first time in 17 years:
"I am very sorry that some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle do not believe in government and the collective good it can do to help citizens, businesses and communities lead more humane, productive lives. They do not share our democratic values and seem to feel compassion and support should not be extended to every citizen, but should be reserved for a privileged few. They did not see fit to keep the federal government open to serve the millions of Americans who depend upon it. And they had no regard for the over 700,000 federal employees and their families whose lives hang in the balance because of this reckless and unnecessary action.
"Throughout the past years of budgetary and funding struggles, Democrats have made serious compromises and agreed to deep cuts to programs we believe need to be sustained in order to avoid reaching this kind of impasse. But no serious concession was ever made on the other side. We have fought very hard to defend Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare from attempts to end those programs as we know them. We also fought, in this instance, to extend healthcare benefits to millions of Americans who currently have no access to coverage.
"It is irresponsible for the House majority to allow the federal government to shutdown. We must get back to the true work of governing, which involves fair negotiation and mutual compromise. That's what the American people expect and that is what they deserve."