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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

 9:14 AM 

Johnson, Kind say they're open to short-term budget fix

GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind said Tuesday they're open to a short-term continuing resolution to give lawmakers time to strike a deal on government spending and re-open functions of the federal government that have been closed due to the standoff.

But they also expressed reservations about the positions taken by the other side.

Johnson, of Oshkosh, said he couldn't understand why Senate Dems refused to accept any of the Obamacare provisions House Republicans attached to the continuing resolutions sent to the Senate over the last few days.

He also expressed concern that Senate Dems under the direction of Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., rejected a House call for a conference committee. The request was shot down 54-46 along party lines.

"If he maintains his position of not even being willing to talk or go into a negotiating room with House Republicans, that's not a very encouraging sign," Johnson said.

Kind, of La Crosse, said Republicans have spent the past six months rejecting calls to go to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate budgets. He also noted simply going to conference committee wouldn't re-open the federal government and urged House Republicans to take up a clean resolution to do that and provide time for talks to continue.

One of the House GOP resolutions included a provision to repeal the tax on medical device manufacturers. Kind said he continues to support a repeal of that tax, but said that has to be paired with an offset to pay for eliminating the tax.

He said he continues to speak with moderate Republicans to see if there's a path forward.

"It is a lousy way to run a government, given the uncertainty that it creates and the potential economic hardship," Kind said.

Johnson and other Senate Republicans have met with the White House on spending issues this year. He said the last meeting on the debt and deficit was during the August recess, though that meeting also turned to the situation in Syria at the time.

"We didn't solve any problems, but certainly took some important first steps in working toward a solution," Johnson said.


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