Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says there are ways out of the impasse in Washington that has shut down federal agencies and threatens to keep the government from paying its bills.
Fortenberry says he understands the concerns that the fight between his fellow Republicans in the House and President Barack Obama, a Democrat, will prevent agreement on raising the debt ceiling.
“We need to pay our bills and that would necessitate an increase in the debt ceiling, but we also need to get underneath the root causes as to why this debt is going up. That’s the responsible thing to do and that’s fair to all Americans and, hopefully, something will break in the near term that gets us there,” Fortenberry tells Drive Time Lincoln host Kevin Thomas on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Some signs have emerged from Washington that Republicans and Democrats could begin talking about their differences that has prevented a continuing resolution from passing to fund the federal government and threatens to derail attempts to raise the debt ceiling. President Obama has met with both Democratic and Republican leaders of the House. Today, he will talk with Senate Republican leaders.
Fortenberry says negotiations must begin, and begin soon.
“The end result of this hopefully is constructive; it’s not going to be perfect whatever agreement is come to, but you have to start a conversation. You have to talk to one another,” Fortenberry says. “The House is, I think, disposed toward talking to the President. It would be helpful if the Senate would come forward and we could break through this impasse and get something constructive done.”
Fortenberry sees some areas of agreement emerging. He says agreement could be reached to give federal agencies flexibility in coping with the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Agreement could form around some policy changes to save money and tax reform to promote economic growth, according to Fortenberry.
Attempts by the House to derail the federal health care law, known as Obamacare, have failed. But, Fortenberry says agreement could be reached on some mild changes to the law.
Fortenberry says he believes the average American wants to see finances addressed.
“Look, most people in Nebraska, I think most people across America, are willing to tighten the belt, think about sharing sacrifice in order to get this country back on solid footing, to restore our economic strength and really our true greatness. Most people are willing to do that, if it’s fair.”