Senate Democrats

Moderate Democratic Senators Urge Speaker Boehner To Avoid Government Shutdown That Would Distract From Serious Long-Term Fiscal Challenges

Senators: Congress Needs To Focus On Addressing Debt, Not Short-Term Budget Fights

Washington, D.C. – A group of 16 moderate Democratic senators, led by Mark Udall of Colorado, today sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, urging him to prevent a shutdown of the federal government that would hurt our country’s still-fragile economy and distract from the need to work together to address greater, long-term fiscal challenges.  The senators agree that addressing the nation’s debt requires urgent action, and they added their voices to those who are extremely concerned that a minority in the Republican Party are pushing for a government shutdown solely to assert a political point.

In addition to Mark Udall, the letter was signed by senators Tom Carper (DE), Michael Bennet (CO), Kay Hagan (NC), Tim Johnson (SD), Mark Begich (AK), Jon Tester (MT), Mark Warner (VA), Ben Nelson (NE), Kent Conrad (ND), Jim Webb (VA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Mary Landrieu (LA), Claire McCaskill (MO), Bob Casey (PA), and Chris Coons (DE).

Not only would a shutdown distract Congress from focusing on a comprehensive, bipartisan approach to debt reduction, economists have warned that it would stunt productivity, erode confidence in the U.S. economy and hamper job growth, the senators wrote.  At a time when the economy is still recovering, they said, the federal government and Congress “should be single-mindedly focused on supporting economic development and job growth.”  Senate Democrats have shown significant flexibility, agreeing to Republicans’ original proposal to keep the government running through the year while protecting jobs.

“Knowing that a bipartisan deal is within reach to cut tens of billions of dollars from current funding levels, it would be irresponsible to shut down the government and punish our constituents solely to assert a political point,” the senators continued.  “We stand ready to resolve this short-term funding debate in a common-sense way and work with you on tackling the even more daunting fiscal challenges our country must confront.  The American people expect no less.”

A copy of the letter follows:

Dear Speaker Boehner,

We recognize the difficult task you face in seeking a budget compromise for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011.  While we all agree that Congress must address our long-term structural deficits, we also share a responsibility to govern, support the economy and provide critical services for the American people.

Although we have had 13 straight months of private-sector job growth and added 1.8 million such jobs in that time, the U.S. economy is still fragile and too many Americans continue to struggle.  The federal government and Congress should be single-mindedly focused on supporting economic development and job growth.  But some members within your caucus continue to seek sustained confrontation and are interested in shutting down the government as a misguided sign that they are serious about debt reduction.

However, a government shutdown at this time will only serve as a counterproductive attack on our economic recovery.  Economists note that a suspension of services would have a measurably detrimental impact on our economic output, while business leaders warn about a shutdown’s impact on confidence in the U.S. economic recovery.  A setback of this nature would prevent the growth we need to tangibly address our long-term fiscal imbalances.  Knowing that a bipartisan deal is within reach to cut tens of billions of dollars from current funding levels, it would be irresponsible to shut down the government and punish our constituents solely to assert a political point.

We know you understand the importance of this issue and share our desire to avoid shocks to our fragile economy that would inhibit job growth and hurt our fellow citizens.  We stand ready to resolve this short-term funding debate in a common-sense way and work with you on tackling the even more daunting fiscal challenges our country must confront.  The American people expect no less.

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