U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to work together to reach a compromise agreement to avert a shutdown of the federal government.

She wrote:

"After much spirited debate over the spending levels for the current fiscal year, it is past time that we set partisan politics aside and work in good faith to reach a compromise that will avoid a government shutdown and allow Congress and the Administration to finally shift its attention to the serious debate that must take place on the long-term budget challenges facing our country.

I am disappointed that during the nearly six months since October 1, we have been funding the government with short-term, stop-gap, funding measures. This is not a responsible approach and risks ending up costing taxpayers more in the long run.

Because Congress failed in its obligation to pass any appropriations bill last year, we are now faced with an untenable situation that threatens to shut down the government, disrupting the lives of Americans and causing further economic uncertainty. It is unacceptable that with less than six months left in the current fiscal year, the Administration and Congress remain unable to find the middle-ground that will allow us to agree on a long-term funding bill that makes responsible cuts and takes into account our national priorities.

As I have said repeatedly, I find it particularly troubling that with troops currently engaged in three wars, Congress has not, at a minimum, managed to pass a funding bill for the Department of Defense for the remainder of the fiscal year. The leadership of our military services has repeatedly warned that operating under a CR is damaging procurement, research programs, and readiness. Now we are faced with the prospect that if compromise on a funding bill is not reached by this Friday, troops in the field will be told to continue to carry out their missions serving their country, but their pay would be delayed, which could create considerable hardship for them and their families back home. This to me is an unconscionable outcome.

Compromise is a necessary element in a well-functioning legislative body. I believe that failure to reach a compromise to prevent a government shutdown will only reinforce the belief held by many that our nation's capital is a place of complete dysfunction. It is time to put our differences aside and for both parties to come together to agree on a responsible budget for the remainder of this fiscal year and to finally begin making the tough choices necessary to fund the government in fiscal year 2012."