INDIANAPOLIS — When Indiana’s freshman senator joined a small group of Senate centrists two weeks ago to quietly begin forging a plan to end the shutdown of the federal government and keep the U.S. from defaulting on its debt, he was convinced it was what his Hoosier constituents wanted him to do.
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly still was, as he headed home for a long weekend that included re-opening his state offices and watching his beloved alma mater, Notre Dame, take on its historic football rival, Southern Cal.
The Democrat Donnelly was part of a bipartisan group of 14 moderates who crafted a framework for the final compromise that was approved by the Senate and House Wednesday night that re-opened the government and averted the default.
“This is precisely what the people of Indiana expect from me,” said Donnelly Thursday. “When I was elected, I told them this is what I would do: I’d work with everyone in the Senate, whether they were Democrat or Republican, and just use Hoosier common sense.”
Indiana’s other U.S. senator, Republican Dan Coats, voted for the measure that re-opened the government and raised the debt ceiling, though he did so reluctantly. “While I deplore supporting yet another short-term Band-Aid, 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,” he said in statement released Wednesday.
Donnelly’s role as one of the 14 moderates who crossed party lines to find a solution to the stalemate first emerged two weeks ago, after a rare Saturday session for the Senate. On that first weekend of the shutdown, the speeches on the Senate floor were sharply partisan.
The tone in the chamber infuriated Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who stormed the Senate floor to urge her colleagues to “stop fighting and start legislating.”