As Congress lurches toward a government shutdown next Tuesday, the business community is urging both chambers of Congress to stop fighting long enough to keep the government funded and lift the debt ceiling.
In a Friday letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and signed by 236 organizations, an array of industry groups urges lawmakers not to hurt the economy with political brinkmanship. “It is not in the best interest of the employers, employees or the American people to risk a government shutdown that will be economically disruptive and create even more uncertainties for the U.S. economy,” the letter reads.
The letter comes as the Senate is passing a continuing resolution to fund the government past Sept. 30, the end of the 2013 fiscal year. But the bill passed by the Senate added back in funding for the health care reform law that the House of Representatives' version attempted to defund. If the House doesn’t pass a second version that includes funding for "Obamacare," then a shutdown is likely to occur. Whatever the economic results of a shutdown, economists agree that if the United States defaulted on its debt, the results would be catastrophic -- and the Treasury predicts the U.S. will hit the ceiling around Oct. 17. Meanwhile, conservative Republicans want to use the debt ceiling to extract concessions on spending cuts and, likely, "Obamacare" in order to raise the ceiling. President Obama has said for months he will not negotiate at all over the debt limit.
“Likewise, we respectfully urge the Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner and remove any threat to the full faith and credit of the United States government,” the letter states.
Though the letter does not address the battle over health care reform, it does note that the goals of entitlement reform, tax reform, cutting government spending and bringing down the debt -- all issues at stake in the budget fight -- are all important reforms that the groups support, just not important enough to shut down the government or risk defaulting on the debt. The letter asks that Congress “act promptly to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government and to raise the debt ceiling, and then to return to work on these other vital issues.”
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The groups signing onto the letter include local chapters of the Chamber of Commerce and a wide array of industry groups, from the Aeronautical Repair Station Association to the Wisconsin Grocers Association.