Coats: Congress should return to work on deficit reduction

The Senate has recessed until President Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 21, while the House will return to Washington, D.C., next week.

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“Both sides of the aisle recognize that our spending and borrowing cannot continue at its current pace,” Coats said. “Both parties have acknowledged that mandatory spending programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — are the main drivers of our debt. Now is the time to stop politicizing and start leading. This is no time for Congress or the president to take breaks from the fiscal crisis. Congress and the White House have a job to do and must get to work today.”

Moments before the end of the last Congress, lawmakers passed a last-minute deal negotiated by Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Vice President Biden that extended the Bush-era tax rates for families making less than $450,000 and put off the automatic spending cuts for two months — avoiding the “fiscal cliff.”

Republicans have said now that tax rates have been dealt with, Democrats need to get serious about spending cuts in order to once again avoid sequestration. Some Republicans have also said that they will use the debt ceiling, which will need to be raised within the next two months, in order to get Democrats to agree to spending cuts on entitlement programs.

Coats said lawmakers should return to work now so that another last-minute deal isn’t needed.

“Unlike the past two years, we cannot continue to run out the clock, forcing Congress to make last-minute decisions on deeply flawed policies,” Coats said. “The Senate should not be rushing major legislation and voting in the early hours of the morning on New Year's Day. It doesn’t have to be this way. Consistently governing from the edge of a cliff is detrimental to our country and reflective of a complete lack of leadership in Washington.”