Former senator: A government shutdown is avoidable

Lawmakers should use the continuing resolution to direct spending reductions and set the stage for a vote on raising the debt ceiling, Gregg says.

Former Sen. Judd Gregg writes in an op-ed Monday that there's a way for Congress to push fiscal restraint in two big upcoming events without "undertaking political self-destruction" in the form of a government shutdown.

"Use the continuing resolution, which will have to be dealt with approximately a month and half before the debt ceiling, to set the table of action to justify the debt-ceiling vote," the New Hampshire Republican writes in The Hill.

Gregg, a former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said that through the continuing resolution, Congress can direct committees to draft bills reducing federal spending over the next five years in order to compensate for the amount that the debt ceiling would need to be raised.

"This would be better than simply holding a debt-ceiling vote where if the 'no' votes were to carry the day, we would end up with a government shutdown, the likes of which was fatal to those of us pushing fiscal responsibility in 1995," Gregg writes.

To simply hold that kind of vote, he says, would be irresponsible.

"The American people in the last election did not ask for chaos," he writes. "They asked for fiscal responsibility."

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner says that spending needs to be cut now.

"We're broke," Boehner said on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.

Asked by host David Gregory if he would specifically rule out a shutdown, Boehner said, "Our goal here is to reduce spending. It is not to shut down the government."