THE BLOG
12/17/2013 11:49 am ET | Updated Feb 16, 2014

We Just Got One Step Closer to a Budget Deal -- But Now I Need Your Help

I just got off the Senate floor, where we voted to clear a key procedural hurdle of the Bipartisan Budget Act. I spoke about why this bill is so important, and now I need your help urging your senators to vote for final passage to prevent another shutdown and put jobs and economic growth first.

Here's why this is so important.

A few months ago, a man named Timothy wrote to me saying that before this year, he had never even heard the word sequestration. But, working as an engineer at an Air Force base, along with his father and brother, he soon learned what sequestration meant. For him and his family, it meant furloughs. It meant layoffs. He told me that with all the twists and turns, it meant life had become like a roller coaster ride.

Unfortunately, Congress has been driving that roller coaster in recent years. As families across the country have been reeling from the uncertainty and consequences of drastic spending cuts, Congress has been governing from crisis to crisis. We've lurched from fiscal cliffs, to debt limit brinkmanship, to a government shutdown.

But last week, Chairman Paul Ryan and I agreed to a deal, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. While the deal isn't perfect, it breaks through the partisanship and gridlock of recent years. It rolls back automatic spending cuts for the next two years -- cuts that have been devastating for education, medical research, infrastructure investments, and defense jobs. It's a compromise that put jobs, the economy, and families first. And critically, if it passes, it means there won't be another government shutdown in January.

Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved this deal with strong bipartisan support. Today, the Senate took a critical step to block a GOP filibuster. And now, it's time for the Senate to pass this bill so we can stop lurching from crisis to crisis and businesses, workers, and families can get the certainty they deserve.

Families like Jennifer-Cari Green's. She is a medical support assistant at Madigan Army Medical Center in my home state of Washington. When across-the-board cuts went into effect, her paycheck took a hit. She told the Senate Budget Committee that she worked hard at the hospital to care for her patients, to ease suffering. But throughout the day, she worried that she wouldn't have enough gas to pick up her child from daycare. She worried that the lights would be shut off when she got home.

If this bipartisan bill passes in the Senate, I hope it will provide some much needed relief to families like Jennifer-Cari's that have been unfairly bearing the burden of Congress' budget uncertainty.

So, how will the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 provide that relief? Most importantly, it prevents another shutdown in January and protects our fragile economic recovery from another unnecessary shock. But it also rolls back a significant amount of the automatic cuts from sequestration over the next two years. That means Congress will be able to invest more in our families and communities -- and in priorities like Head Start, military readiness, and medical research.

While this deal is a strong step forward to roll back the harmful automatic cuts from sequestration and is an important step away from the constant budget crises of recent years, it's still just a step. Nobody got everything they wanted.

All year long, I've heard from Americans like Timothy and Jennifer-Cari's. Their stories are part of what has motivated me to fight so hard to replace the devastating, automatic cuts. And while this deal doesn't replace all of sequestration, as I had hoped, and it's not going to solve every problem facing our families and businesses -- it's far better than the alternative: another year of across-the-board cuts, or even worse, a potential government shutdown.

I also had hoped Republicans would agree to close corporate tax breaks to raise revenue, instead of raising fees. And I was very disappointed that this deal didn't include an extension of support for workers fighting to get back on the job. At the same time, many Republicans didn't want to touch automatic cuts at all. And many others had hoped to use this budget conference to make the kinds of cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits they've advocated for in the past.

So this is not the deal Democrats would have written on our own, and it's not the deal that Republicans would have written on their own. It's a compromise -- and can hopefully serve as a foundation for continued bipartisan work.

Because, we still have lots of work to do to create jobs, boost the economy, and replace the rest of sequestration.

But first, this bill needs to pass. So, to ease the harsh across-the-board cuts hurting our families and communities, to prioritize economic stability and growth, and to finally reach a bipartisan deal to avoid yet another budget crisis -- call on your Senators to vote for the Bipartisan Budget Act.

It's time to stop the roller coaster of constant crises, put jobs and economic growth first, and make sure Congress is working for the American people.