The Congressional panel dealing with budget negotiations met this week for the first time to avoid another potential government shutdown and maintain federal funding. The spending bill as it stands now will keep the government open until January 15. U.S. Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, serves on the congressional panel and says he hopes Democrats will make concessions for cuts to entitlement programs in exchange for some lifting of sequestration, in what Portman calls "a good bargain for the American people."
In an interview with WYSO's Emily McCord, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, says he is willing to negotiate but he doesn't think opening the conversation with cuts to mandatory programs like Social Security and Medicare is the way to do that. Brown says Republicans must be willing to close tax loopholes for corporations and to increase taxes on the wealthier Americans.
"I'm open to a lot of things but if they're not even willing to close these tax loopholes, how do we ever get where we need to go as a country by taking it from Social Security and Medicare?" says Brown. "It might be a political grand bargain for some Washington insiders but it's not what the country wants or should have."
Brown also spoke with McCord about whether to allow more time for people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act given the problems plaguing the online marketplace, and his views on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Brown didn't say whether he supports extending the sign-up deadline past March 31, 2014. And he discussed his endorsement of Nan Whaley for Dayton mayor ahead of the upcoming election.