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Washington Memo: Government is not a winner-take-all sport

Granite Staters are rightly frustrated and fed up with the gridlock in Washington that has resulted in a government shutdown that is hurting families and small businesses. We share that frustration – and we know that our country deserves better from their elected representatives. That’s why we’re calling on Republicans and Democrats to come to the table now, work out a plan to reopen the government and develop a long-term deficit reduction plan that will move us beyond this impasse.

Too many in Washington are wasting time and energy finger-pointing and playing the blame game, instead of working together to find a way forward. During an informal bipartisan get-together we hosted earlier this week for our women colleagues in the Senate, there was unanimous agreement that members of both parties need to put politics aside and act in the best interests of our country.

Washington could take a lesson from our state’s long, proud tradition of bipartisanship and compromise. In the Senate, we don’t agree on every issue, but we are committed to working together on behalf of our constituents. And we’ve been successful as a result. In just the past year, we’ve worked together to bolster our small business exporters because we know it will help grow our economy. Together we lead a key Armed Services subcommittee responsible for overseeing our military’s readiness, which has allowed us to be strong advocates for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and its dedicated workforce. And we were proud to support the Pease Air National Guard Base’s 157th Air Refueling Wing’s successful effort to become the new home of the KC-46A refueling tanker.

When it comes to our nation’s fiscal challenges, we have been part of bipartisan efforts to produce a long-term deficit reduction package that will put our country on a more fiscally sustainable path. That effort would be bolstered – and future crisis situations could be avoided entirely – if Washington did its job and passed a budget and appropriations bills on time. To that end, we support legislation that would force Congress to budget responsibly and rein in excessive spending while also requiring better oversight and stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

The American people sent 535 representatives to Washington to work together to address difficult issues and to move our country forward. They did not send us here to manufacture crises, skirt our responsibilities, and bicker with one another. Regardless of political party, everyone should agree that the stalemate in Washington is unacceptable. And for each day that we let it continue, our country is paying too heavy a price.

We have a divided government, but governing is not a winner-take-all sport. We should seize this opportunity to successfully address the many challenges facing our country – and that means putting an end to partisan bickering and starting to actually listen to one another. It’s time for our nation’s leaders to stop the partisan gamesmanship and start governing and working across the aisle in good faith. That’s what is expected of us as elected representatives of the American people, and they deserve nothing less.

(Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Kelly Ayotte represent New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate.)

Legacy Comments17

Only you Bruce can twist something into a fig leaf offered by the left. The fact is that the ACA is failing on all counts. The implementation of it is a disaster. We have not even gotten into the fact that any day now we will be hearing about all the folks who will find out their info has been hijacked by hackers. The president has already delayed parts of it because it is not working. But why would we expect it would. The govt has a long history of implementing things poorly. I can see why you do not want to talk about it. The law is creating a whole slew of issues. Just read the figures on jobs. Every month we loose full times jobs and see an increase in part time jobs. When things cost more in business they cut. I understand that addressing anything about the ACA is something the left does not want to do, because if they actually were honest about what is happening they would have to admit that they voted for a plan they know nothing about.

I find this letter a little bit refreshing for a change.. It is nice to see someone from each party agreeing that it is time to stop the blame ,politics and partisanship and look for solutions that are at least acceptable to everyone. It may not seem like much, but the very fact that the two of them are willing to sit down together and write this letter goes a lot father than most other members of Congress have been willing to do. As long as we are focused on the personalities of the people involved we will NEVER get to even looking at solutions, let alone solving them. I consider myself a moderate Republican,and am no fan of Jean Shaheen, but every once in a while she surprises me with something very positive and constructive. I am much more socially liberal then Kelly Ayotte but find her to at least to be tolerant of other social viewpoints. I dont see either one as particularly duplicitous but are sincere in what they believe. Im not a young man any more but like to think perhaps I have gained some wisdom over the last 71 years. My world is no longer black and white but has become sort of grey and therin lies the chance for compromise and solutions. Perhaps we need to give them a chance!!!!

WE NEED MORE OF THIS! Thank you, Senators Shaheen and Ayotte for being grown-ups. Perhaps we need to simply replace as many men as we can with women in politics. The "boy's club" has had their turn for quite some time and look at the mess we're in.

How easily you guys are taken in. Ayotte talks with a split tongue. All compromise in op eds, but check the roll call. She voted for DEFAULT!

It's good to see our two senators--one Democrat, one Republican--come together to try to resolve problems. This is happening because New Hampshire is a moderate/independent state. We elect leaders from both parties. This is not the case in most of the country. Because of gerrymandered districts, politicians know they're safe at re-election time as long as they play only to their base. This is why we have the shutdown. Republicans are pretty sure they're not going to get the Senate back in 2014 but they're also pretty sure they're not going to lose the House either. So they decided they could pander to their base and try to repeal the ACA because they had nothing to lose. I believe they've been planning this shutdown for months. It was their last great assault on the ACA, and their latest attempt to tear down this president at all cost. So far it doesn't appear to be working but they won't know the consequences until next November. Meanwhile, people all over the country who have been effected by the shutdown are feeling the consequences every day. My guess is that they'll be voting Democrat next November.

Pander to their base? No they are pandering to their constituents which is what they are elected and paid to do. If you think that people in Texas want Obamacare, think again. What consequences? The mail is still coming, people are still being paid, "non-essential" workers should not exist anyway, they are "non-essential". Those folks complaining already vote Democrat.

Yes, pandering to their base. It is only the most conservative Republicans who are willing to shut down the government and risk default just to stop the ACA. Why do you think John Boehner refuses to put a clean continuing resolution up for vote? Because he knows it will pass. It will pass because most Congressmen's constituents want the government back up and running. As to Texas, they have the highest uninsured rate in the country. 1 out of 4 Texans (6 million in all) has no health insurance. So yes, I think many, many Texans look forward at the opportunity to finally acquire health insurance. I find it baffling that some conservatives don't believe this will effect the elections next year. Do you really think the GOP is endearing itself to moderates and independents? Neither party can win without this key voting block. So hell-bent is the Tea Party caucus on destroying Obama that they're willing to take down themselves, the Republican Party and even the whole country. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

It amazes me that so may progressives are so worried about Republicans shooting themselves in the foot in the next election. I think that you realize that most of the country could care less about the shutdown and most of the country (minus metropolitan elitist areas) want government reduced, leaned out and the foolish spending, graft and corruption to stop. Progressives are not even willing to talk about health care, they have what they want in place and they don't want to even suggest that it is flawed.

So what is it democrats...?? What are you willing to compromise on?? Anything??? Hows that working for you??

NObama and his party of NO are simply hyper partisan politicians. Not an ounce of Statesman blood in them

Hyper partisan politics, perhaps you should read some of your posts - talk about hyper partisan hog wash.

Have you forgotten all of the compromises (including those on the ACA) that have taken place leading up to this moment? Will Republicans ever be satisfied with compromise, or will they insist on having everything their way?

Maybe you could list some of those compromise FOF. Basically we need honest talk. That means discussing issues as opposed to calling each other names, and avoiding what is happening economically, I agree with ITSA, where is the discussion about the ACA? I do not see a lot of chatter about it except now and then from Bruce. Basically the left refuses to discuss any issue. They just say the ACA will give everybody health care period, end of discussion. Lots to discuss about it in regards to doctors, cost, jobs etc.

There is little or nothing to talk about regarding the ACA. It will be implemented. Republicans had ample chances for input when the legislation was being crafted, and chose not to participate, figuring (wrongly) that they could demagogue the issue in 2012 and win repeal. It didn't work out that way. Now, Republicans may be offered a fig leaf, to save face, in the form of a delay or reconfiguring of the tax on medical devices. But otherwise, that horse left the barn when the ACA passed into law, and then again when the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. By my count, that's at least 4 separate votes in favor of healthcare reform: the 2008 election, passage of the healthcare law by Congress, the Supreme Court decision, and the 2012 re-election of Obama.

You are absolutely correct when you say we need honest talk. Unfortunately when it comes to The ACA the GOP from the start had adopted the stance that they will try to kill it from the start. When it was voted into law the GOP refused to even participate. No rational debate, no desire for input, no suggestions for changes - just a blind approach, defeat it. Since it was passed no talks of improvement just years of repeatedly failed bills to defund, delay or kill, not a single iota of thought towards addressing the many shortfalls. How can you say with a straight face that democrats refuse to discuss the issues. How can you have a conversation when the zealots have only one goal - to kill the bill. They do not want to talk, they want you to do as their group of demigods demand. Furthermore, your comment about the "left refusing..." shows your bias. Politics is not black and white, nor is it left and right. There is an entire spectrum between the two extremes, people seem very quick to accuse those with different views as being the enemy. The true enemy of democracy are the ones that think only they are right.

Good History teachers know the following is true : Daniel Patrick Moynihan repeated one insistent warning: Sweeping, historic laws don’t pass barely. “They pass 70-to-30,’’ he said, “or they fail.” ObamaKare wont succeed when the realities of bad law are apparent to all.

We have been over this time and time again. The TP led GOP has one agenda and that is to kill Obamacare. They were willing to force 800000 workers to take unpaid furloughs, shut down many non critical services that in the end hurt many Veterans and vacationers as well as all the codependent support businesses. Quite frankly I don't care about the GOP shooting themselves in the foot, certainly not the first time. Just don't have the audacity to even suggest that the Democrats are the ones unwilling to compromise. The TP Manifesto is based around No Compromise, our way or the highway. There idea of compromise is de-fund Obamacare or delay it. Not much wiggle room there. Perhaps should should look into the concept of compromise, I think you are confused.

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