Senator Jon Tester has a strong message for Speaker of the House John Boehner and the U.S. House of Representatives: Failure to work together to avoid a “highly irresponsible” shutdown of the federal government would cost American jobs.

Tester today joined several of his colleagues in urging Boehner, R-Ohio, to resist members of his caucus seeking to “punish our constituents solely to assert a political point.”

A government shutdown would result in:
· Delayed paychecks for U.S. troops, though they would still be expected to report for duty.
· No funding for states for highway projects.
· The IRS suspending refunds to taxpayers.
· The closing of Montana’s two national parks.
· A suspension of federal home loan guarantees and small business loans.
· A possible disruption of Social Security, Medicare and veteran’s benefits checks.

Tester is part of a bipartisan group of Senators crafting a long-term strategy to cut the national debt and cut spending.

“Montanans expect their representatives to work together to responsibly cut spending without putting our entire government and the economy on life support,” Tester said. “We can’t afford an irresponsible shutdown because jobs are at stake.”

Tester also questioned members of the House who voted last week against his plan to prevent congressional pay in the event of a shutdown, saying they “should lead by example, not rhetoric.”

Tester last week called on the House of Representatives to pass his plan to prevent members of Congress and the President from getting paid if they fail to pass a budget and shut down the federal government. The Senate unanimously approved the measure.

Tester’s letter to Speaker Boehner appears below.

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Dear Speaker Boehner,

We recognize the difficult task you face in seeking a budget compromise for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011. While we all agree that Congress must address our long-term structural deficits, we also share a responsibility to govern, support the economy and provide critical services for the American people.

Although we have had 13 straight months of private-sector job growth and added 1.8 million such jobs in that time, the U.S. economy is still fragile and too many Americans continue to struggle. The federal government and Congress should be single-mindedly focused on supporting economic development and job growth. But some members within your caucus continue to seek sustained confrontation and are interested in shutting down the government as a misguided sign that they are serious about debt reduction.

However, a government shutdown at this time will only serve as a counterproductive attack on our economic recovery. Economists note that a suspension of services would have a measurably detrimental impact on our economic output, while business leaders warn about a shutdown’s impact on confidence in the U.S. economic recovery. A setback of this nature would prevent the growth we need to tangibly address our long-term fiscal imbalances. Knowing that a bipartisan deal is within reach to cut tens of billions of dollars from current funding levels, it would be highly irresponsible to shut down the government and punish our constituents solely to assert a political point.

We know you understand the importance of this issue and share our desire to avoid shocks to our fragile economy that would inhibit job growth and hurt our fellow citizens. We stand ready to resolve this short-term funding debate in a common-sense way and work with you on tackling the even more daunting fiscal challenges our country must confront. The American people expect no less.