Last year, I heard a lot of input on my statewide Manufacturing Jobs tour, and I've heard a lot more since then-ideas from Missouri's employers about how to expand job opportunities and keep the economic recovery moving in the right direction.
But you know what I haven't heard? Not one Missouri manufacturer has told me to sit on my hands. Not one employer has told me to do nothing. Not one company has told me to turn out the lights on the federal government.
Unfortunately, doing nothing seems to be the plan for too many members of Congress.
Last year, to require both parties to come together and tackle our fiscal challenges, Republicans and Democrats agreed to a process called sequestration which would involve dramatic across-the-board spending cuts in domestic and national security programs if Congress doesn't come up with a comprehensive alternative to reduce the debt. The automatic cuts scheduled for year's end were passed because, unfortunately, the threat of heavy-handed cuts to domestic and national security programs is the only incentive some politicians have to work together.
I've been proud to be one of a group of independent Senators interested in a compromise plan to tackle the national debt. But so far, the most dug-in politicians in Washington have blocked a compromise to replace the across-the-board cuts with a more balanced plan-willing to risk the potential job losses that would result from sequestration because they would rather protect huge tax giveaways for multi-millionaires and corporations.
Members of Congress need to get off the sidelines and get into the game-they need to compromise to replace sequestration with something better. Knowing what's at stake, I'm going to keep working as hard as I know how to forge common ground, protect jobs and safeguard our national security.
Folks across the country are justifiably cynical that compromise is still possible these days. But I've seen the two sides in Washington work together. Like my friend, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, crossing the aisle and working with me on our Bipartisan Jobs Creation Act, to invest in the nation's critical infrastructure without adding to the national deficit. Or Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, working with me on a plan to protect business opportunities by keeping the Internet free of foreign regulations. Or Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio working with me on a plan to boost trade opportunities for our manufacturers while guarding against the return of earmarks.
If we can work together, there's no excuse for the rest of Congress to sit on the sidelines and let the blunt force of sequestration hit American workers and our national security.
I'm going to keep fighting for compromise solutions that reduce our national debt, protect jobs, and take balanced approaches to our biggest challenges-out-of-control deficits and job opportunities. In the weeks ahead, I hope more of my colleagues join me in that fight.