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April 8th, 2011

The Possible Government Shutdown – At the Crossroads Of Status Quo and Fiscal Responsibility

By Iowa Congressman Tom Latham

As you probably have heard, the federal government’s authority to spend money will expire at midnight tonight, resulting in a shutdown of government functions deemed nonessential.  I want to take a few minutes to explain to you my thoughts on this turn of events and my efforts to avoid a shutdown.

First of all, I voted in favor of a number of proposals to prevent a shutdown while also cutting wasteful spending from a bloated federal government. One of those proposals, HR 1, would have avoided a shutdown altogether by funding the government through the rest of the current fiscal year while cutting $100 billion from President Obama’s budget request and $61 billion from current spending levels.  But the proposal never reached the president’s desk because the Senate rejected it without offering a serious counter-proposal.  Additionally, I voted in favor of three stopgap measures to continue government operations to give negotiators more time to strike a long-term agreement.  One of those short-term resolutions would have made sure our troops would continue to receive their pay throughout a potential shutdown.  Again, the Senate refused to approve it.

I supported those bills with an eye toward averting a shutdown, but I also voted for them because each one contained significant cuts to current spending levels.  The American people have made it clear that the spending binge in Washington must end.  The trillion-dollar annual deficits of the last several years have stifled the American economy and slowed job growth.  We simply can’t continue to spend money we don’t have, and any budget approved by Congress must contain serious spending reductions.  If we don’t end Washington’s spending addiction, we’ll prolong the economic uncertainty standing in the way of real job creation.

House Republicans have gone to great lengths to keep the government open and deliver the real spending cuts that are necessary to give the private sector the certainty it needs to create jobs.  Unfortunately, the White House and Senate continue to cling to the big-spending, job-destroying policies that have been rejected by the American people.  Last year, when Democrats controlled Congress and the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives didn’t even consider a budget.  In the nearly 40 years since the current budgetary rules were adopted, that had never happened before.  Their failure to approve a budget in 2010 means we have to clean up the mess now.

In the 48 days since HR 1 was approved in the House, the Senate Democrats and the White House have refused to propose a serious alternative of their own.  Instead, they’ve cranked up their message machine in an attempt to characterize HR 1 as “extreme.”  But what could be more extreme than continuing the policies that have driven the national debt to $14 trillion?

I understand that a shutdown will leave many Iowans with questions about government services.  To help answer those questions, I’ve devoted a page on my website (Latham.House.Gov) to providing Iowans information about how a potential shutdown would impact them. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office personally if you have additional concerns.  My staff and I will do everything we can to help Iowans navigate the disruption caused by a shutdown.

Throughout this process, I’ll continue my efforts to keep the government running without interruption.  But I won’t support any budget that doesn’t cut spending and give the American people the certainty they need to create jobs and grow the economy.  The trillion-dollar deficits and the failed government stimulus experiments of the last few years have left our country in a dire situation that requires tough choices.   Faced with this major fork in the road, we must choose the path of fiscal sanity rather than the status quo of taxing, spending and borrowing.

Whatever final agreement is reached by Congress, we must make sure it’s the right thing for the American people.

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The Iowa Republican

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