Senator says budget vote is nothing to be proud of
by Jeff Hage
Two of the area’s top Washington lawmakers say they are relieved that Congress Oct. 16 passed a measure to avert a threatened U.S. default and reopen the federal government.
“Like everyone in America, I’m relieved,” said 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan.
“This came to a head for the American people, and I see that as helpful,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives approved the plan, with the Senate passing the measure by an 81-18 vote and the House by a 285-144 vote. President Barack Obama signed the bill.
Both Nolan and Klobuchar acknowledge that the deal offers only a temporary fix. It funds the government until Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, creating the possibility of another government shutdown early next year.
“Our policies in Washington are hurting, not helping,” Klobuchar said.
The vote, Nolan said, was anticlimactic.
“But it spared everyone hurt and pain,” he said.
Klobuchar sees what she calls a few “silver linings” in Congress’ last-minute deal last week.
One, moderate Republicans came out and showed their voice, Klobuchar said. Second, it sets up an actual, rational process for getting to the eventual passing of a budget plan by establishing a group of committees that will meet to hash out budget details.
But there is no reason to celebrate the fact that an agreement was reached last week, Klobucher said.
“This is just the beginning. It will take the spirit of bipartisanship to get it done,” she said.
He is calling on his fellow lawmakers to return to the days of past when those in Washington worked together, not against each other.
“I served three terms in the ’70s and ’80s, and back then there was collaboration,” Nolan said. “We got to know each other and talked to each other.
“We worked full time and all the legislation was a product of that process,” he said. “If there was an idea, you could offer it. It would then be debated. And then you had a chance to vote on it,” Nolan said.
That’s in contrast to today’s Congress, he said, where the Speaker of the House can rule a measure out of order and prohibit even a discussion on a matter.
Like Klobuchar, Nolan sees hope for a future budget bill because of the formation of the conference committees comprised of both Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate.
“We have to start talking, and that’s a good sign,” Nolan said.
Nolan said there are a number of people like himself who were appointed to the committee that have ideas for cutting spending, saving money and adding revenue.
“That’s where the hope for the future lies,” Nolan said.
Added Klobuchar, “I don’t want to see another shutdown. Americans are very upset that their government shut down.”
Klobuchar said she’s fairly confident the government won’t shut down again.