Letter: An Adult in the U.S. Senate

To the Editor:

The action in the U.S. Senate these days is about as discouraging as a second-string cricket match on the Falkland Islands in the rain. The Senate seems unable to deliver what the American people want or need right now. Malaise prevails, and the entire minority caucus remains committed to blocking the smallest compromise. In fact, most Americans now doubt the Republican Party knows the meaning of the word.

Luckily, New Hampshire is represented by one of the outstanding adults still working in the upper chamber, Jeanne Shaheen. I admire our senior senator, a lot. When she was governor, Shaheen proved time and time again that she was willing to bring every bit of her intellect and experience to the task of finding solutions. She is doing the same again down in D.C.

When she was governor, Shaheen advanced her goals by making partnerships with people like Republican representative Anne Torr. In Washington, as she now tries to enact a new, more rational biennial budget process, she joins Republican Sen. John Isakson of Georgia to ramp up their combined political horsepower. As she says, “We need a long-term solution. ... We also need to look at the process by which we make our decisions. The process right now simply isn’t working.” Senator, you can say that again.

Shaheen is also addressing the issue of sexual assault in the military, and it’s clear that her work matters. She is making it clear that rape of American servicewomen and men will not be tolerated, period. And the Shaheen amendment finally put an end to the discriminatory law that said a raped civilian employee of the federal government had access to complete medical care, including abortion, but an American servicewoman who was raped didn’t. Now that is progress.

I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to work in the current Washington environment. Sequestration proceeds, even though no one wants it to happen. I don’t know how Jeanne Shaheen keeps her focus, but she does, and we are all the better for it.

Peter Hoe Burling

Member, Democratic National Committee