Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty and New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster are leading an effort to urge House Speaker John Boehner and House Republican leaders to declare they will not threaten a federal government shutdown or default as a long-term budget agreement is negotiated.
The two Democrats announced Thursday that 178 members of Congress had so far signed on to a letter to Boehner.
In the letter, lawmakers said the cost of another government shutdown would be too high. They said the absence of paychecks to hundreds of thousands of federal employees in October caused "real economic hardship to those employees and their families."
A bipartisan group of congressional negotiators met Thursday and promised to find agreement to spare both the Pentagon and domestic agencies from automatic, indiscriminate spending cuts.