By Rob Portman
These days, Washington lurches from crisis to crisis, causing damage to the American economy and uncertainty for Ohio businesses and families struggling to get back on their feet during the weakest economic recovery since the 1940s.
Washington is not getting its work done – over the past four years, the White House and Congress have not completed a single appropriations bill on time, resulting in Continuing Resolutions and sequestration, throwing the nation into one budget crisis after another.
In the past several years, the House has consistently passed annual budgets and a number of spending bills. However, the Senate has passed only one out of the last 48 appropriations bills on time under Majority Leader Reid’s leadership, and only one budget in four years.
Now the Majority is refusing to allow amendments to a CR that exceeds by $19 billion the budget caps set by the bipartisan Budget Control Act the President signed and Congress passed only two years ago.
President Obama and Congress should responsibly budget within these bipartisan spending limits now, rather than bust the caps for the next few months while guaranteeing a sequester to impose across-the-board cuts in January. These Continuing Resolutions surrender Congress’ ability to prioritize spending, and would also force the Pentagon to squeeze a year’s worth of cuts into shorter and shorter periods, once again unfairly targeting our warfighters’ ability to train and prepare because Washington is unwilling to address the mandatory spending driving it’s out of control debt and deficits.
Moreover, there is bipartisan support for my legislation to stop government shutdowns through commonsense reforms that put in place a structure doing away with that threat. I have filed that legislation as an amendment to the Continuing Resolution, yet the Majority has refused to allow it to come forward for a vote, seemingly preferring the political fights surrounding a shutdown to responsible government and America’s economic security.
Americans should not have the threat of a government shutdown hanging over their heads.
This is no way for our government to run and is certainly not the best way to make important budget decisions. Government shutdowns tend to lead to hasty, budget-busting deals and also add unpredictability for the economy, government agencies and for the people who rely on government programs.
Given the majority’s unwillingness to even allow us to vote on my bill to do away with the threat of government shutdown, or to vote on amendments to have government live within bipartisan spending limits created just two short years ago, I can’t vote to move this forward, and opposed cloture.
This is consistent with tough votes I have taken in the past year to defend the Budget Control Act, whether it was the highway bill or the postal reform bill.
This most recent threat of shutdown happens at the same time as millions of Americans are forced to deal with the pending implementation of more parts of Obamacare.
Unfortunately, the negative effects of Obamacare don’t stop at the hospital door. They aren’t limited to just our pocketbooks. If you ask Americans what’s the most important issue to them, they’ll tell you it’s the lack of good jobs in this country. Obamacare kills jobs.
President Obama has given a yearlong waiver to big business, but he’s been unwilling to give that same consideration to Ohio families being thrown into the exchanges. And there is plenty of evidence the exchanges aren’t ready.
The Obama Administration has already decided they aren’t ready to verify whether people qualify for the government subsidies in the exchanges. Earlier this week, we learned about yet another glitch in the exchanges, as small businesses were told they would not have access to the online marketplace when they open next week. Rather than delaying the bill for some, but not others, the President should delay the bill for everyone. The American people deserve health care reform that works, not reform that causes higher costs and less coverage. I can’t imagine many Senate Democrats would vote for Obamacare again knowing what they know now about their law’s negative impacts on jobs and health care.
I will vote against any attempt by the Democrat majority to reinstate Obamacare funding in the Continuing Resolution. I hope Democrats will instead work with us to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered, market-driven reforms that actually lower costs while expanding access.
Rob Portman is a United States Senator from Ohio.