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Letter: Swallow your pride, senator

Service in Congress often means making tough choices. When I had the honor to serve New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, I rarely took a vote on a major piece of legislation which left me feeling completely comfortable. More often than not, I had to balance the good to be served against a host of distasteful provisions that seemed to find their way into every major bill to ease their passage.

In a perfect world, in a better functioning system, legislation would be clean and without extraneous provisions or wasteful spending. Congress often seems to operate in its own world, certainly not perfect and often, not quite real. It took far too long for Congress to take up the Hurricane Sandy relief bill, which Sen. Kelly Ayotte voted against.

When it reached the Senate, it was laden with spending provisions that could have been brought up some other way. But a vote against the bill meant a vote to deny relief to individual victims, to businesses, to state governments, to a neighboring region of the country buried under an avalanche of misery. Ayotte justified her “no” vote by citing wasteful spending.

Fiscal responsibility is important, and I agree that it’s preferable to separate emergency spending from other spending. But in this imperfect world and in our imperfect Congress, serving the people wisely, compassionately and well sometimes requires swallowing one’s pride in upholding principal and voting, with your heart, for people.



(The writer is a former Democratic congressman.)

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