Back from the brink

The old adage that you never want to see sausage being made or your legislature at work was never more true than last week, when members of both parties battled until literally the eleventh hour Friday night before reaching agreement on a budget that prevents a government shutdown.

We’re certainly glad they reached a compromise, and we recognize that both parties made concessions in order to do so.

Democrats accepted more spending cuts than they had ever planned in approving the agreement with $38 billion in cuts.

Republicans dropped their effort to eliminate federal funds for Planned Parenthood, along with earlier attempts to defund public radio and television and to prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Democracy is a messy, rough-and-tumble process, and we don’t blame either side for fighting hard for their budget preferences. However, we do think it’s reprehensible that they played chicken with government services, the jobs of government employees and, most importantly, pay for military personnel in harm’s way in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday’s agreement only funds the government through the end of September. Even bigger battles are anticipated over next year’s budget. To prevent the sort of dangerous brinksmanship that occurred this time, they should exempt military pay from any possible shutdown, as was done in the 1980s and 1990s. Even better, they should adopt Sen. Mark Udall’s proposal to keep all government functions operating at their existing funding levels until a budget agreement is reached.


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