Negotiations Must Continue

By Rep. Adrian Smith

After 16 days of stalemate, Congress and the President agreed to temporarily reopen the government and avoid default.  While this solution is far from ideal, it was the only remaining option to continue negotiations over our long term fiscal challenges, including the President’s health care law.
In addition to reopening the government and extending the debt limit before the Administration’s announced deadline of October 17th, the legislation requires a conference committee to negotiate a bipartisan 10-year budget by mid-December.  The bill also ensures enforcement of income verification standards to qualify for Obamacare subsidies, which will help prevent fraud and save taxpayer dollars.
No one wanted the government shutdown to occur, and no one wanted to risk default by failing to address the debt limit.  There is plenty of blame to go around for this impasse.  However, divided government requires both sides to work together, and both parties have regularly negotiated government funding and raising the debt ceiling for decades.  This failure was a result of both parties being unable to agree.
Democrats, including the President, went into the shutdown saying they would not negotiate over funding levels for the government, or the many emerging problems in the President’s health care law.  In the end, they finally came to the table and agreed to the Obamacare fraud prevention measures.
This part of the bill was not a major concession, and fell short of what many others and I had hoped to achieve in this debate.  However, for a short-term agreement this concession and the agreement to begin negotiations over a long term budget were an acceptable means to end the immediate impasse.
Neither side should be satisfied with either the government shutdown, or where we are now.  Many of our national challenges remain unresolved, and we face the prospect of another showdown in early 2014.  In order to move forward and stop the seemingly never ending brinksmanship, both sides must continue to negotiate in good faith.
The American people elected a majority of Republicans to control the House of Representatives, a majority of Democrats to control the Senate, and a Democratic President.  Neither party has a mandate, nor the ability to get everything it wants.  As we work to address these challenges we must work together, talk, continue to seek common ground, and never let bickering replace honest debate.
While the latest fight in our ongoing political battles was frustrating and problematic for many, I still believe we are capable of coming to a broad agreement to put our nation on a better path.  I hope we will seize the opportunity.

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