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October 12. 2013 1:10AM

Another View -- Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen: Stop the bickering, start governing

GRANITE STATERS are rightly frustrated and fed up with the current 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.

Jeanne Shaheen, D, and Kelly Ayotte, R, represent New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate.


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