In a letter to Barack Obama, 64 senators — 32 Democrats and 32 Republicans — called on the president to get more involved in the ongoing budget negotiations, and to broaden those talks to include areas like tax reform and entitlement reform. Sens. Mike Johanns (R., Neb.) and Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) spearheaded the bipartisan effort. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) did not sign the letter, but were not asked to, in line with Senate tradition:
“We need the White House to be engaged,” Johanns said. “There is no question that tackling tax reform and entitlements is tough…We won’t have any chance unless the president joins with us in the good faith effort.
“The ball is very clearly in the president’s court,” Johanns said.
“We want to work toward a comprehensive plan,” Bennet said. “This is about keeping the conversations, keeping it alive.”
Text of the letter:#more#
Dear President Obama:
As the Administration continues to work with Congressional leadership regarding our current budget situation, we write to inform you that we believe comprehensive deficit reduction measures are imperative and to ask you to support a broad approach to solving the problem.
As you know, a bipartisan group of Senators has been working to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction package based upon the recommendations of the Fiscal Commission. While we may not agree with every aspect of the Commission’s recommendations, we believe that its work represents an important foundation to achieve meaningful progress on our debt. The Commission’s work also underscored the scope and breadth of our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.
Beyond FY2011 funding decisions, we urge you to engage in a broader discussion about a comprehensive deficit reduction package. Specifically, we hope that the discussion will include discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform.
By approaching these negotiations comprehensively, with a strong signal of support from you, we believe that we can achieve consensus on these important fiscal issues. This would send a powerful message to Americans that Washington can work together to tackle this critical issue.
Thank you for you attention to this matter.
Here’s who signed the letter:
Republicans: Sens. Alexander, Ayotte, Barrasso, Blunt, Boozman, Brown, Burr, Chambliss, Coats, Coburn, Cochran, Corker, Cornyn, Crapo, Enzi, Graham, Hoeven, Hutchison, Inhofe, Isakson, Johnson, Kirk, Lee, Moran, Murkowski, Portman, Risch, Roberts, Shelby, Thune and Wicker.
Democrats: Sens. Kerry, Klobuchar, Wyden, Saheen, Lieberman, Hagan, Begich, Carper, Udall (Colo.), Pryor, Feinstein, Tester, Coons, Nelson, McCaskill, Nelson, Manchin, Cardin, Franken, Landrieu, Conrad, Warner, Durbin, Harkin, Kohl, Murray, Stabenow, Bingaman, Blumenthal, Udall (N.M.) and Brown.
Meanwhile, Congress is in recess all next week, and the president is . . .