During remarks on the House floor Monday, U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA-10) urged his colleagues to heed the advice of Senate Chaplain Barry Black to end the political stalemate and return to governing.
Below is the complete text of Wolf’s remarks:
In Luke 12:48 Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
The Congress and the president have been entrusted with much, namely the responsibility to govern this country. The American people rightly expect us, regardless of party affiliation, to come together, especially during times of crisis, and find ways to get things done. They are understandably fed up with this current dysfunction, and I am, too.
Each side thinks it is winning, but in reality, the country and the American people are losing. Senate Chaplain Barry Black says there's a level of insanity involved in the current government shutdown. Asked what it would take to end the current impasse, the former Navy chaplain said, “It's going to take humility.” Wise words.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
There is too much pride poisoning this debate. The American people should be the winner, not one party or the other, not the administration or the Congress.
Short-sighted political victories aimed at capturing the latest headline in the 24 hour news cycle will not stand the test of time, nor will they be viewed well through the lens of history, especially if on our watch the trust that must exist between elected officials and the electorate is frayed beyond repair.
For those of us who think Obamacare is a disaster – and that is a growing number of people in our country – its future will not be decided by shutting or opening of the government. In fact, the current failings of the system including the widespread glitches plaguing the Web site are not getting the news coverage they should because the “story” has become the shutdown. The public debate surrounding Obamacare, which will undoubtedly be at the forefront heading into the mid-term elections, will play second fiddle until the government is once again operational.
It also bears mentioning, that while important, Obamacare must be placed in a larger context of the exploding national debt and deficit, and unsustainable spending and entitlement programs set against the backdrop of a public discourse bereft of civility. Only through enacting reforms based on the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles recommendations will we ever solve the drivers of our deficits. We have put these tough, but important, reforms off for far too long.
To my colleagues in the Congress and to President Obama who think they are “winning” at this particular moment, we would do well to remember the words of Napoleon Bonaparte in speaking of the changing nature of public opinion. Napoleon said:
“The crowd which follows me with adulation, would run with the same eagerness were I marching to the Guillotine.”
I return again to the sentiments of Scripture: We have been given a great trust, and it is demanded of us to come together to solve these problems.
It is time to show some humility. It is time to govern.
Let’s get the government back open, ensure we don’t default on our debt and then commit ourselves to curbing unsustainable entitlement spending.