Connecticut’s Senators Are Confident Congress Learned Its Lesson
Connecticut’s U.S. Senators were optimistic Friday that the damage done by the recently-concluded government shutdown and near default would pave the way for more compromise in Congress and perhaps the passage of a federal budget.
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy held a press conference at the Legislative Office Building Friday where both Democrats called the recent crises “avoidable” but said they hoped the negative economic impact was enough to deter Congress from allowing similar standoffs to occur in the future.
“This time it hurt more than anytime before. This crisis, this manufactured crisis hurt more than any of the previous ones. That might create a different kind of appetite for the kind of grand compromise that we both are seeking,” Murphy said.
The federal government has not had a budget since 2008, which has forced Congress to periodically approve resolutions to continue funding the government. The legislature’s failure to approve such a resolution is what caused the government to shut down.
The senators said they were optimistic a budgetary agreement could be reached with both parties agreeing to provisions to they do not like in order to reach a compromise.
“I think a great compromise… is more likely than ever because of the pain that all of us saw, all across the country,” Blumenthal said. “Everyone of us had these personal stories… Every senator went to the floor at some point and spoke about the pain endured.”
Murphy said he believes that compromise will need to include Democrats giving on issues like spending and entitlement reform. Republicans will need to concede some on raising revenues and increasing investments in things like education, he said.
“There is equal blame in Washington to be shared by Republicans and Democrats when it comes to why we haven’t had a budget in half a decade,” he said. “We are now… in the process of writing a budget that will avoid these crises in the future. I think both parties have to look themselves in the eye… and assess what role they’ve played in stopping a budget from happening.”
Although the two Democrats were willing to share responsibility for the government’s failure to pass a budget, they laid blame for the 16-day government shutdown at the feet of House Speaker John Boehner and the conservative Tea Party wing of the GOP.
Both said they believed the Tea Party had failed to gain any significant ground during the past two weeks and had lost power and influence in the process.
“The Tea Party has reached its high water mark,” Blumenthal said. “I don’t think it knows yet that it faces declining prospects, but I think America is really disgusted with the politics of destruction.”
Murphy said President Barack Obama “got everything he wanted” out of the deal to reopen the government and avoid breaking the debt ceiling. However, he said Obama needs to be at the table for the coming budget negotiation. Murphy said he would like to see more leadership from Obama in terms of reducing the national deficit.
“I think at times over the past few years, we have not seen the president at the table with the kind of force that many of us would like to see,” he said. “Many of us are hopeful that if we are going to get this major deficit reduction package and budget settlement in the next few months, that it only happens with an active administration at the table.”
Blumenthal said he has spoken with Obama and believes the president fully intends to be a major part of the negotiations because “it’s the most important game in town.”
“It’s going to shape the remaining two years of his administration and he will be a force at the table,” he said.