U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, deserves an attaboy after demonstrating an increasingly rare trait on Capitol Hill late Wednesday: sanity. The retired surgeon joined 87 Republicans in the House in approving a deal to end the partial shutdown of the federal government and increase the debt limit, averting a potential economic catastrophe. Stock markets worldwide breathed a heavy sigh of relief upon news of the deal.
Boustany released the following statement after the 285-144 House vote in favor of the deal (Democrats voted unanimously for the measure):
Americans have had enough of the short-term political squabbling coming out of Washington. I refuse to jeopardize the nation’s economy over political disagreements on Capitol Hill. Some in Washington deny their responsibility to govern. Members of both parties must come together to work out their differences while achieving goals on important policy areas like tax reform, long-term government spending, and energy security.
A soft-spoken moderate now in his fourth term in the House, Boustany has joined a growing chorus of mainstream Republicans in questioning the motives of the radical right within the GOP ranks. In a Wednesday interview Boustany told a National Journal reporter, “There are members with a different agenda, and I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative.” Boustany also took aim at groups like FreedomWorks, Club for Growth and Heritage Action, which pour money into the coffers of Tea Party Republicans and demand fealty to an extremist, obstructionist agenda: “There is a very large silent majority that’s getting frustrated with what’s happening because of what these outside groups have done by setting false expectations, deliberately misleading the public on some of these issues and commanding allegiance of certain members who falsely place their allegiance to these groups rather than to their constitutional responsibility to govern.”
Bravo, congressman, and speaking of which, on the Senate side the budget deal passed 81-18 with Louisiana’s delegation split: Democrat Mary Landrieu voted with the sane while Republican David Vitter sided with the ideological outliers.
Boustany's Louisiana GOP colleagues in the House — Bill Cassidy, John Fleming and Steve Scalise — also voted against the deal, with Fleming telling Roll Call, ominously, before the vote, "[T]hat will get us into Round 2. See, we’re going to start this all over again.”
Great. Just great.