WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, in a fiery, impassioned speech on the Senate floor yesterday, urged his colleagues to stay in Washington until the nation’s fiscal problems were solved, rather than spend the next seven weeks focused on campaigning.
The Senate voted to adjourn until after the election, one of the earliest adjournments since 1960.
“It’s clear to me that betting on Congress getting religion after an election is also a risky gamble – a gamble with America’s future, a gamble with the next generation,” Manchin said. “Just give the American people the facts and show them the options – the way we did at our fiscal summit last week – and they will do their part to get this country back on the right path. They always have.
“That’s what makes this country great,” Manchin said. “So don’t sell them short just because this is an election year. They can tell when you’re dealing straight with them – or when you’re playing politics. And right now is not the time to play politics.”
The Senate also voted yesterday, 76-22, to pass a temporary spending measure, the 13th temporary spending extension since November 2010, when Manchin took office.
“And now, we’re being asked to pass yet another measure to keep things going another six months so we can all go home for the election and worry later about this country’s growing debt,” Manchin said on the floor. “Well, a ‘baker’s dozen’ is just one too many for me. Enough is enough. I can’t vote for this measure to simply kick the can further down the road another six months. This can’t go on.
“The people of West Virginia did not send me here to go along just to get along. They sent me here to help fix our budget problems with bipartisan commonsense solutions, the way we did when I was their governor. We didn’t pull these kinds of stunts in West Virginia. We wouldn’t leave if it was all through the night, or another week. We stayed on the job until the work was done. We came together and made decisions that moved our state forward.”
The legislation will fund the day-to-day operating budgets of every Cabinet department and continue covering military operations overseas. It’s the last major piece of legislation that’s likely to become law before the election.
It’s unclear when the measure will come to a final vote because senators are haggling over which other pieces of legislation to vote on before leaving Washington and going campaigning.
After the election, Congress will reconvene to try to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts and avoid automatic spending cuts mandated by the failure of the deficit ‘‘supercommittee’’ last year.
“It’s time we do the same thing in Washington and stop putting off what we need to do to get our fiscal house in order,” Manchin said. “It’s time we cancel our flights home, roll up our sleeves and get down to the people’s business, because we’ve reached a dangerous point in our history – a point at which our debt is threatening not just our economic standing in the world, but also our national security.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.