Letter to Paul Ryan, Chair of the House Committee on the Budget, and Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Budget - Fair and Balanced Solutions to Budget Problems


This week, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas sent a letter to the bipartisan, bicameral budget conference committee tasked with negotiating the nation's long-term budget solution. The letter was sent to Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Representative Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, as well as other members involved.

Tsongas wrote the letter to outline her ideas for a fair and balanced solution and to share the perspective and priorities of the Third District. In it, she urges her colleagues to find common ground in order to prevent another disastrous government shutdown, make a real down payment on our national debt, convert the harmful sequester cuts into targeted ones balanced by new revenue, and incorporate a true bipartisan approach that incorporates sacrifices from both sides.

The conference committee met for the first time on October 30 and is scheduled to finish their deliberations in December.

The full text of Congresswoman Tsongas' letter can be found below and attached to this message.

November 12, 2013

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Committee on the Budget
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Patty Murray
Committee on the Budget
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray,

As you negotiate a budget agreement over the next six weeks, you have a tremendous responsibility to create a framework that removes the threat of another government shutdown, repeals harmful sequestration cuts, and puts our long-term budget back into balance while spurring economic growth. This responsibility will require Congress to step back from the partisan gamesmanship of recent weeks and make bold and responsible compromises.

I write to share with you the perspective and priorities of the district I represent, priorities that are shared by communities throughout the country. These priorities include preventing another disastrous shutdown by finalizing responsible discretionary spending numbers, preventing deep cuts from undermining our fragile economic recovery and harming our national security, making a real down payment on our national debt through a balance of new revenue and targeted cuts, incorporating broadly-shared sacrifices, and protecting the guarantees of Social Security, Medicare, and veterans' benefits.

My constituents were deeply frustrated earlier this month when we witnessed the first government shutdown in almost two decades, which took hundreds of thousands of public and private employees off the job, delayed vital public services, and impacted millions of Americans, all because a small group in Congress insisted upon ideological purity at the expense of levelheaded compromise. Day after day during the shutdown as we inched ever closer to an unprecedented default on our promises, we saw the undeniable failure of single-party solutions and rigid adherence to partisan dogma. The final deal ultimately passed by bipartisan majorities in both chambers and signed by the president, which included no partisan conditions and represented give-and-take by both sides, ought to serve as a model for upcoming budget talks.

One place to start is by setting a realistic discretionary spending level to spur economic growth and protect our national security. As Republican House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers noted earlier this year, "the first major attempt by the House to consider and pass an Appropriations bill that funds domestic programs under the austere level delineated under the Budget Control Act and the House budget resolution" failed to receive support from House members because it had to abide by "unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts." Repealing sequestration--with its devastating impact on the investments necessary for securing our long-term global competitiveness like education, infrastructure, medical and scientific research, and national security--is not a Democratic or Republican priority, but a priority for the Congress and the nation. I strongly encourage you to reach an agreement on realistic spending levels before the disparities between the House and Senate budgets set the stage for another continuing resolution, or worse, shutdown.

In addition to this most basic responsibility, you have an opportunity to craft a long-term budget that continues to fine-tune the health care bill so that it can optimally serve the American people and provides a balanced approach to deficit reduction that combines targeted spending cuts with new revenue sources--just as every bipartisan group that has looked at this problem has suggested.

Avoiding the consequences of stalemate will require reaching a deal that includes shared sacrifices. Both parties will have to make real concessions. This is both just and pragmatic. As conservative columnist David Brooks has noted, a deal that demands sacrifice from one group but not another is not sustainable in our democracy over the long run. To return our deficits to the surpluses we ran in the late 1990s and pay down our long-term debt will require a sustained commitment from the entire nation, a commitment that will only come if a deal is seen as fair.

With those principles in mind, I believe that a plan that trulyThe Honorable Patty Murray addresses the challenges we face should include some portion of revenue increases and should not fundamentally alter the Social Security and Medicare programs upon which seniors rely. It should also ensure we have the resources to adequately care for our veterans. I believe it is both responsible and fair to end tax breaks for oil companies that receive billions of dollars in federal subsidies especially as they are turning record-breaking profits, to end other egregious tax loopholes, and to restore common sense to the tax subsidies that benefit the wealthiest few. Likewise, it is important that we make reforms to all components of federal spending, including entitlement programs. I support efforts to strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for years to come, but will reject any attempts to privatize these programs, or to turn them into block grants or vouchers that transfer those costs onto those least able to afford it. After years of paying into these programs, our seniors and those about to retire deserve the peace of mind knowing that their retirement security is protected and that they won't have to deplete a lifetime of savings if they require longer hospital stays, assisted living, or a complicated surgery.

A responsible plan that reduces the deficit in a balanced way while protecting American jobs is vital to our nation's economic strength and prosperity. Thank you for your leadership and for your consideration. I look forward to working with you to ensure that our nation pays its bills and protects our future.


Niki Tsongas

Member of Congress


The Honorable Tom Price

The Honorable Tom Cole

The Honorable Diane Black

The Honorable Chris Van Hollen

The Honorable James Clyburn

The Honorable Nita Lowey

The Honorable Ron Wyden

The Honorable Bill Nelson

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow

The Honorable Bernie Sanders

The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse

The Honorable Mark Warner

The Honorable Jeff Merkley

The Honorable Christopher Coons

The Honorable Tammy Baldwin

The Honorable Tim Kaine

The Honorable Angus King

The Honorable Jeff Sessions

The Honorable Charles Grassley

The Honorable Michael Enzi

The Honorable Mike Crapo

The Honorable Lindsay Graham

The Honorable Rob Portman

The Honorable Pat Toomey

The Honorable Ron Johnson

The Honorable Kelly Ayotte

The Honorable Roger Wicker