Matthew Tully: 3 Indiana Republicans stand up for political sanity
It was easy to spot the adults in the room, and the potential source of future sanity in Washington, as the federal government’s latest manufactured crisis came to a close this week. All you had to do was look at the votes to end the shutdown and the statements that flew out of congressional offices after the vote.
For Indiana’s congressional Democrats, the voting was not particularly telling of anything. Their party had won the battle over the shutdown and the debt limit and, so, Reps. Andre Carson and Pete Visclosky, along with Sen. Joe Donnelly, cast easy votes in favor of the deal. We won’t focus on them today.
The drama, intrigue and potential for statesmanship, after all, were clearly on the other side of the aisle. And although the shutdown produced few examples of political courage or wisdom, from either side of the aisle, three Indiana Republicans in the end provided a much-welcome display of rational behavior.
Sen. Dan Coats and Reps. Susan Brooks and Todd Young essentially held their noses and voted to reopen the government, making clear they were disappointed with D.C. but choosing to put common sense above stubbornness. You have to at least give them credit for breaking from the nonsense that is too common on Capitol Hill these days.
The trio did not praise the deal reached Wednesday or claim to be satisfied with the federal health care act or the nation’s debt. But, as Brooks said, “surpassing the debt ceiling would harm Hoosier families, adversely affect the stock market and damage America’s position on the global stage” and “default puts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid payments at risk and could trigger another downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.”
Coats criticized both inaction on the debt and the deal’s “Band Aid” approach, but said “the only thing worse would be a continued government shutdown, the United States defaulting on its debt obligations and the elimination of the spending reductions enacted by Congress in 2011.”
Voting to end the shutdown and pay the country’s bills sounds so simple to most of us. But displays of compromise in these deeply partisan days can cost politicians dearly, particularly Republican members of Congress who must fear the specter of a tea party challenge in a low-turnout, high-stakes primary.
So good for Coats, Brooks and Young for doing the right thing this week — and for Coats’ willingness to stand up to partisan crusaders in his party even before polls made clear the shutdown had hurt Republicans. It is worth noting that their strategy, as opposed to the all-or-nothing approach taken by so many of their colleagues, is actually more likely to encourage serious talks about the debt and fixing Obamacare’s failings.
As Young said in a statement: “Our country will never move forward until our leaders in Washington resolve to work together.”
Let’s hope that message gets through.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @matthewltully