Senators push Congressional leadership and President to avoid crisis and reach budget deal

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester, a member of the Appropriations Committee, and nine of his colleagues today called on Congressional leadership and the President to reach a budget deal that responsibly invests in middle class families, veterans, national security, infrastructure, education and public access to public lands.

Tester and Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D – N.D.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D- Mo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.¬), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent a letter to President Obama, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi urging them to sit down together and hash out a deal to avoid another budget cliff.

“We are deeply concerned that a failure to reach a consensus on budget cap relief this summer will threaten our national security, undermine our economy and shortchange future generations,” the senators wrote. “It is critical that you begin negotiations now in order to avoid another manufactured crisis this fall.”

The senators pointed out that sequestration caps have already proven to be unworkable and make it impossible to responsibly invest in bipartisan priorities like veterans, national security, water infrastructure, Head Start, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“No one wins if Congress fails to craft a bipartisan plan to provide support for our veterans, children or economy, or if Congress simply gives up and allows all federal agencies to operate for another year without any direction or oversight from Congress,” the senators added. “The American people expect us to find a responsible, bipartisan path forward to properly invest in our economy without increasing the deficit.”

The letter pointed out five specific bipartisan areas where sequestration caps are having harmful impacts:

The Senate VA Appropriations bill, as currently drafted, underfunds the VA by more than $800 million, limiting the Administration’s ability to care for veterans.

National Security
The Senate and House Defense Appropriations bills, as currently drafted, harm national security efforts by limiting the Department’s ability to develop long-term strategies.

Water Infrastructure
The Senate Interior Appropriations bill, as currently drafted, cuts more than $500 million from clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure programs.

Head Start
The Senate Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill, as currently drafted, underfunds Head Start by $1.4 billion hurting low income children’s ability to get ahead.

Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Senate Interior Appropriations bill, as currently drafted, underfunds the Land and Water Conservation Fund a successful initiative that increases public access to public land.

A copy of the letter is available HERE.