For 16 days, the day-to-day business of processing veterans benefits, approving small business loans, developing cures for deadly diseases, and inspecting food was halted. Why? Our government shut down because one faction, of one party, in one chamber, of one branch of government held the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to its political demands.
This reckless and irresponsible government shutdown hurt our economy and hurt Ohio’s middle-class families.
Last week, the Senate came together and passed a plan that would fund our government. Unfortunately it took three weeks of dangerous obstructionism to get us right back to where we were three weeks ago with a sensible, bipartisan plan, to keep the government open, pay America’s bills, and start a long-overdue, bipartisan budget negotiation.
The last three weeks accomplished nothing. This shutdown cost taxpayers billions, furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers, destabilized our economy, and damaged our reputation abroad.
It is time for Democrats and Republicans to work together and pass a long-term budget that ends sequestration, reduces the deficit, creates jobs, and grows the economy. Since Senate Democrats passed a budget in March, we have been ready and willing to negotiate a smart, balanced way to lay a foundation for economic growth. We have been ready to talk, and we have already compromised. The budget Democrats passed earlier this year would replace damaging across-the-board cuts that continue to be a drag on our economy with smarter spending cuts and revenues from closing loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations.
But we can’t allow Congress’ basic, constitutional duties from being hijacked each time we need to perform them.
Now that we’ve reached a deal, and the pain of shutdown and dangerous threat of default is off the table, we must sit down and work together to find common ground on ways to address America’s challenges and strengthen our economy.
We should have these discussions. But we should not put our economy, and middle class families, on the brink before having them.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.