With just days left before the August 2nd deadline to raise the debt ceiling, this government faces yet another crisis of its own making, and yet it is not we who pay the price for our failures to govern it is you and the American people.
Given the current state of affairs, I want to apologize to every West Virginian and all Americans for the terrible process they have been made to endure and witness.
To the tens of millions of American families who work hard each and every day, I can only imagine the anger and disgust they have at witnessing a broken government and a President and Members of Congress who can't seem to even agree sometimes on what day it is let alone how to solve our nation's debt crisis.
You deserve better.
But know this: Washington may be broken, but it will not break me. And you should not let it break you, either.
I know that fixing big problems like our exploding debt is complicated. But Washington often makes it harder than it really needs to be.
Months ago, when I said that I would not vote to raise the debt ceiling without a long-term debt fix, I thought this Congress and the President would tackle the issue head-on.
As I said at the time, the choices we make to address our debt now will determine whether the vital programs we all deeply care about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans' programs, education for our children, Head Start are there for those in need and for decades to come.
This week in Congress, two potential deals were discussed: one was short-term and the other was shorter-term. Neither seemed to come close to preventing a credit downgrade or actually solving the debt crisis we face. I told you, the people of West Virginia, that I could not support either one of them unless they included a pathway for a long-term debt fix.
Instead, I respectfully encouraged the President and leaders in the Senate and House to find common ground by committing to plan that would guarantee a vote on a long-term fix.
I believe a vote on a long-term fix is possible because many good people have already worked hard to put together the framework and pieces of what such a long-term fix could look like.
Already we have seen two promising commonsense proposals from bipartisan groups: the Bowles-Simpson Debt Commission, which presented its report nearly nine months ago, and a similar framework that was presented last week by the bipartisan Gang of Six.
Neither plan is perfect, and their much more work to be done. But they offer a starting point to address our death spiral of debt, which now exceeds $14 trillion.
Regardless of what happens in coming days, the question I ask myself is: What will happen if we fail to act? What will happen to the programs we cherish like Social Security and Medicare? What will happen to our nation's defense and to tax rates? What will happen to the people who are truly in need? What will happen to our seniors, our veterans, and our children, if we choose to do too little, or nothing at all?
I, for one, am willing to whatever I possibly can and whatever is asked of me to achieve a commonsense compromise one that reflects our values and priorities. I will work hard every day, across the aisle, until we have a long-term solution to our debt crisis.
Just as we proved in West Virginia, I know that no Senator or Member of Congress can do this alone. But together, putting our politics aside, we can do this and, for the sake of this great nation, our children, and the state I love, I truly hope we do.