By Scott Peters
When I ran for Congress, I was tired of the crisis-to-crisis pattern that Congress had adopted. I called for “No Budget – No Pay” — if Congress didn’t pass a budget, they shouldn’t get a paycheck. Well, maybe we weren’t the only ones who felt that way. For the first time in four years, Congress passed a budget, and it looks like we’ll avoid another irresponsible shutdown that cost our economy jobs.
This budget is not the solution to every problem facing our country nor is it perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. Most important, the budget provides stability and predictability for the next two years to agencies, the military and the large and small businesses that interact daily with the federal government.
Finally the two sides are talking, and working, together. To San Diegans that’s not a novel concept, but bipartisan collaboration has been sadly uncommon in Washington, D.C. There is optimism that Congress may avoid further self-inflicted crises, a fact that should give the economy a chance to grow and expand at a greater rate.
It’s not yet time to celebrate, however. Everyone knows that Congress has significant issues to address, but this Congress remains on pace to be among the least productive in history and was in session fewer hours in 2013 than in any recent year.
Logic and common sense would bring both sides together to address the overly burdensome tax code, replace the foolish across-the-board sequester cuts with smarter ones that don’t undercut our future competitiveness or national security, cut waste and fraud, ensure a fair and sustainable safety net and fix the broken immigration system. These are areas where a vast, bipartisan majority of Congress agrees action is needed, and finding productive solutions to any of them would yield huge economic benefit for the country.
It is no secret that I have been frustrated with the gridlock and lack of bipartisan progress in Washington. The D.C. weather is not why I fly cross-country twice a week. San Diego is poised to lead in science, technology, and innovation, and our businesses and community could teach a lot to Washington about collaboration and cooperation.
That’s what I have seen in the last year, through meetings with constituents in Poway, Coronado, and San Diego, on-site visits to local businesses, research facilities and military bases, and in dialogues with students at local universities. Life-changing things are happening here every day.
Further, my district office here in San Diego is working to bring due benefits and navigate federal agencies for thousands of constituents by hosting workshops and handling casework claims.
Over the next year, I will continue to be a vital advocate for San Diego’s interests in Congress. I hope that the recent budget deal is the beginning of a thaw in the D.C. gridlock. San Diegans, and all Americans, deserve a government that works for them and gives a clear path to economic growth, not a series of politically generated, manufactured crises.
Scott Peters, D-San Diego, represents the 52nd District, which includes much of inland North County.