Tester: Government shutdown will put U.S. economy ‘on life support’

Senator pledges to refuse paycheck during possible shutdown

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today delivered a sharp message to his colleagues in Congress: a shutdown of the federal government will put the entire U.S. economy “on life support.”

In a speech on the Senate floor, Tester highlighted the need to cut government spending and cut the national debt “by embracing a responsible, credible, long-term strategy.”

Tester cited the jobs that would be lost just as the economic recovery is gaining steam, and said members of Congress who force a shutdown “will fail all of us, if drawing a line in the sand becomes more important than working together.”

Tester, pointing to a need for accountability, also pledged to refuse his own pay in the event of a government shutdown.

“[The debt] is not going to be fixed by slick talking points ginned up by Washington, D.C., consultants,” Tester told his colleagues.  “It won’t be fixed by symbolic gimmicks.  And it certainly won’t be fixed by irresponsible decisions—like ending Medicare as we know it.”

Tester highlighted some of the effects on the U.S. economy if the government shuts down:

  • American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan would not receive their paychecks on time
  • More than 1,200 Montana veterans would have to wait for their benefits claims to be processed
  • Jobs would be lost as the government stops honoring business contracts
  • The IRS would stop sending refund checks to paper filers
  • New home loan guarantees and small business loans would be suspended
  • Social Security, Medicare and veterans’ benefits checks could be delayed

“Montanans are patriots, Mr. President,” said Tester, who is part of a bipartisan group of Senators developing a long-term plan to cut the national debt.  “They are ready and willing to follow our lead in providing a fair tax code that provides certainty and fairness.  They are willing to share in the pain of responsible spending cuts that won’t take our economy backwards.  They know we can afford to make cuts in defense.  They know we need to fix – but not dismantle or privatize – our entitlement programs.

“When we work together, we succeed,” Tester added.  “It’s in our DNA.  It’s what makes us the strongest, most innovative nation in the world.  Now we’ve got to summon that strength and determination again, to lead our way out of our economic challenges.”

Tester’s plan to stop paychecks for Congress and the President in the event of a government shutdown was unanimously approved by the Senate, but continues to await action by the House of Representatives.

A video of Tester’s speech is available HERE.  The speech as prepared for delivery is available HERE.

Earlier today, Tester also backed legislation that would ensure American troops on active duty continue getting paid if the House of Representatives shuts down the federal government.