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Public Statements

This Week in Washington


Location: Washington, DC

I think the people of America have been very clear. You want folks in Washington to work together to get our country back on track and put an end to the political brinksmanship that has hurt our economy. This week, I cast two votes intended to prevent a government shutdown and provide desperately needed disaster relief to thousands of Americans. The first one failed and the second version of the bill passed in the wee morning hours on Friday. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would provide a short-term extension to fund government operations through November 18. The federal government faces the threat of shutdown if an agreement is not reached by September 30.

While it was disappointing, it was not a surprise that the process to pass this bill was tainted by partisan bickering and gamesmanship on both sides of the aisle. I fear that trend will continue when the bill moves to the Senate. Everyone is entitled to defend and fight for their core beliefs. The strenuous defense of dearly held principles is to be admired. But it seems we have reached the point in Washington where the most firmly held value is to make the other guy look bad while showing little regard for the national interest. It seems that blind loyalty to partisanship has replaced, or at least become mistaken for, principles as they relate to public policy.

I thought it was pointless and reckless to take America to the brink of another government shutdown so close on the heels of the disastrous and divisive Debt Ceiling debate. Our nation, our citizens and our economy cannot withstand another partisan political struggle and threatened government shutdown over what is essentially a seven-week budget extension. My constituents expect me to act in their best interest, and to be willing to compromise to move our nation forward. There are things in this bill I do not like, but I voted for it in order to move our budget and deficit debates forward and honor the responsibilities our government has to our citizens. Such is the nature of compromise.

It is time to end the partisan brinkmanship and work together to find reasonable, common sense solutions to the vital issues facing our nation. Threatening or even considering a government shutdown and suspension of payments to veterans and seniors all over such a short period of budget extension makes no sense from any reasonable perspective. We can't run a nation on a month-to-month basis right now. America's role in the world and the need of our families and businesses to plan for the future are just too important to have the viability of our government be dangled over the edge of a cliff every few weeks for the sake of political grandstanding. I do not mean to be an alarmist, but all of you already know these are serious times, and surviving them and restoring our nation to its full strength and potential cannot be accomplished through political posturing. It's going to take hard work and a unified effort made by and on behalf of the American people.

It is time for Congress to quit squabbling and join that struggle. It is a travesty that the government has not been able to successfully pass a single appropriations bill this year. The strain this puts on our military, much less the rest of our economy, is unforgivable. A shutdown of the Federal Government would result in an immediate freeze of all government programs, including a potential disruption of benefits for seniors, military families and veterans, as well as an immediate furlough of thousands of American workers, further stifling our economy.

Gridlock and partisanship in Washington are threatening the very stability of our economy. In the two days that the wrangling and screeching took place over this seven-week budget extension, the stock market fell 700 points; and America's bond rating was dropped this summer due in great part to the dysfunctional way in which our government gets things done, or more accurately, fails to get things done. Our government owes its citizens stability, civility and the expectation that on matters of utmost national and economic security, their elected officials will act in the best interest of the nation without regard to politics or party.

The absolute last thing our fragile economy needs is another partisan standoff that does nothing but cause uncertainty and hurts businesses, seniors, veterans and working families. We must do what is right for our country. My votes this week were votes intended to avert a crisis. It just seems that in matters this serious, we should be able to ensure that our government honors its obligations for the next two months without doing any further damage to our economy or our prestige in the world. It's my hope that folks in Washington understand that the people of our nation want us to come together and find solutions. We don't have another day, week or month to waste.

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