Archive for Monday, August 1, 2011

House passes bill to raise debt limit, cut spending; Senate to vote Tuesday

August 1, 2011, 10:40 a.m. Updated August 2, 2011, 12:24 a.m.


— Crisis legislation to yank the nation past the threat of a historic financial default sped through the House Monday night, breaking weeks of deadlock. The rare moment of cooperation turned celebratory when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords strode in for the first time since she was shot in the head nearly seven months ago.

The vote was 269-161, a scant day ahead of the deadline for action. But all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber unannounced and cast her vote in favor of the bill.

A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday. Aside from raising the debt limit, the bill would slice federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion, and perhaps much more.

How they voted

Kansans in the House were split on their votes, with Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Kevin Yoder voting against the plan, and Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo voting to pass it.

“If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions.

After months of fierce struggle, the House’s top Republican and Democratic leaders swung behind the bill, ratifying a deal sealed Sunday night with a phone call from House Speaker John Boehner to President Barack Obama.

Many Republicans contended the bill still would cut too little from federal spending; many Democrats said much too much. Still, Republican lawmakers supported the compromise, 174-66, while Democrats split, 95-95

“The legislation will solve this debt crisis and help get the American people back to work,” Boehner said at a news conference a few hours before the vote.

The Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, was far less effusive. “I’m not happy with it, but I’m proud of some of the accomplishments in it. That’s why I’m voting for it.”

So, too, many of the first-term Republicans whose election in 2010 handed the GOP control of the House and set the federal government on a new, more conservative course.

“It’s about time that Congress come together and figure out a way to live within our means,” said one of them, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. “This bill is going to start that process although it doesn’t go far enough.”

The measure would cut federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion over a decade — and possibly considerably more — and would not require tax increases. The U.S. debt limit would rise by at least $2.1 trillion, tiding the Treasury over through the 2012 elections.

Without legislation in place by the end of Tuesday, the Treasury would run out of cash needed to pay all its bills. Administration officials say a default would ensue that would severely damage the economy.

Beyond merely avoiding disaster, Obama and congressional leaders hoped their extraordinary accord would reassure investors at home and around the world, preserve the United States’ Aaa credit rating and begin to slow the growth in America’s soaring debt. In a roller-coaster day on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average surged, then sank and finally finished down for a seventh straight session but only slightly.

After months of suspense, Monday night’s vote was anti-climactic,

Not so the moment when Giffords’ presence became known.

She greeted some fellow lawmakers who crowded around her and blew kisses to others, beaming the whole while. Her hair was dark and close cropped and she wore glasses — nothing like the image America had of her six months ago when she was shot while greeting constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson.

She did not speak with reporters.

As for the legislation, after months of wrangling over a deal, there was little time left for lawmakers to decide how to vote.

The White House dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to the Capitol to lobby recalcitrant Democrats in both houses.

“They expressed all their frustration,” he conceded after a session with lawmakers of his party in the House.

He said the deal “has one overwhelming redeeming feature” — postponing the next debt limit battle until 2013 and putting the current fight behind. “We have to get this out of the way to get to the issue of growing the economy,” he said.

Republicans lobbied their rank and file as well, and the results were far more positive for them than a week ago when they were forced to delay a vote on an earlier measure.

GOP leaders swiftly drew public pledges of support from some first-termers as well as veteran defense hawks — two areas of concern with the agreement.

Rep. C.W. (Bill) Young, chairman of the committee that handles the defense budget, said, “We’re confident that we can make this happen without affecting readiness and without affecting any of our soldiers.”

There were critics on both sides of the aisle, some of them anguished.

“I did not come to Washington to force more people into poverty,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

“At the end of the day, Washington’s spending still has us sprinting toward a fiscal cliff. And this bill barely slows us down,” said Rep. Mark Mulvaney, R-S.C.

There is little suspense about the outcome for the debt-limit legislation in the Senate on Tuesday.

A member of the Republican leadership in the Senate predicted strong GOP support. “Maybe 35 (of 47) will support it in the end. There will be some who will pull back,” said Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Already, the legislation was emerging as an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced their opposition, while Newt Gingrich issued a statement without saying how he would vote.

The final legislation reflected the priorities of the two political parties.

It would immediately increase the debt limit by $400 billion, with another $500 billion envisioned unless Congress blocks it. At the same time, it would cut more than $900 billion over 10 years from the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies. For the budget year that begins Oct. 1, spending would be held $7 billion below current levels.

The measure also establishes a 12-member House-Senate committee that will be charged with producing up to $1.5 trillion in additional deficit cuts over a decade. If the panel succeeds, Congress will be required to vote on the recommendations without possibility of changes.

If the panel deadlocks or fails to produce at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings, then spending cuts are to take effect across much of the federal budget. The Pentagon, domestic agencies and farm subsidies would be affected, as would payments to doctors and other Medicare providers. But individual benefits under Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and programs for veterans and federal retirees would be exempt.

At the same time, the debt limit would rise by at least another $1.2 trillion, and perhaps — depending on the results of the committee’s work — as much as $1.5 trillion.

Additionally, the legislation requires both the House and Senate to vote on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

The measure also increases funding for Pell Grants for low-income college students by $17 billion over the next two years, financed by curbs on federal student loan subsidies.

The result of weeks of negotiations and harsh arguing, the final result represented a product of divided government that gave neither side everything it wanted. Leaders in both parties were emphatic on that point.

“As with any compromise, the outcome is far from satisfying,” conceded Obama in a video his re-election campaign sent to millions of Democrats. In a tweet, the president was more positive: “The debt agreement makes a significant down payment to reduce the deficit — finding savings in both defense and domestic spending.”


Gregory Newman 6 years, 7 months ago

They all are lying. There will never be job creation the manufacturing base is gone forever the best one can do is work retail or for private security. The health care field is viable but extremely hard to qualify. Janitorial and construction has gone to the illegals. We are a consumer Nation period. NAFTA/GATT is the demon. If they all are serious Obama and the Senate and the House should repel NAFTA/GATT and get rid of all subsidies. We don’t need corporatism we need capitalism. They all are sold-out to Wall Street lobbyist at 4-500 thousand a month. That answers for the cry “don’t tax the rich.” President Reagan created the large work force from 20-36 hr. work week with no benefits mainly in the retail market but those jobs were 2nd jobs with older adults and now they are down to just Target, Walmart and Walgreens. In addition, he started the wave of illegal immigration. No one should blame Obama they never wanted him on the team the voters did. They say no to him for everything Presidents are not law makers it’s the house and senate period. There are so many of you that are so full of anxiety that you cannot see who it is that is slapping you.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 7 months ago

Tea-baggers and democrats in the house should work together to block this bill.

The fact that tax increases are not part of this deal is ridiculous.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 7 months ago

Not really surprising though, the repubs would gladly go into default if it meant they'd have a better chance of getting elected next year. It is their main goal in all of this. The dems are too cowardly to hold them accountable for this.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

The largest obstacles are fear of losing special interest campaign money, guts to terminate Bush tax cuts and backbone to cut off pork barrel corporate subsidies. Bribery of elected officials is the most stinky of all bribery!

The remedy:

1.CUT OFF special interest financing of elections! YES even at the local level.

  1. Our government bodies are always claiming the USA is about democracy. In that case allow the citizens to practice democracy by allowing citizens to vote in these measures come 2012:

A. Let's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : Demand a change on the next ballot.

B. Let's have public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue.

  1. The “Peoples Budget” does everything this country needs:

    • Creates good-paying jobs
    • Fully maintains our social safety net
    • Invests in education
    • Ends our costly wars
    • Closes the tax loopholes that have made offshoring jobs profitable
    • Ends oil and gas subsidies that pollute our country at taxpayer expense
    • Creates a national infrastructure investment bank to help us make intelligent investments for the future

The “People's Budget” represents not just common sense; it represents the will of the American people.

What the “Peoples Budget” does very specifically:,70

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

You've only copy/pasted this twice so far today? You're slipping, merrill.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

I really don't understand what merrill gets out of doing that. It's ever so much more fun to write your own original material.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

Did you read his post? Did you follow the links? If not, then of course you don't understand.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 7 months ago

This is a good start, the best that could be expected when Republicans control only one house. The most significant byproduct of this has been the realization by a much greater portion of the voting public of the fact that liberal Democrats have no interest whatsoever in significantly reining in spending, and the extremely serious problems that we will face if we don't quickly take appropriate steps to do just that. Obama's pitiful lack of leadership has again come to the fore, causing him to look more like Jimmy Carter every day. If the Republicans can nominate an electable candidate and counter Obama's limousine liberal money with freedom-based ideas and goals, Obama and his socialist cronies will be toast in 2012.

Jimo 6 years, 7 months ago

Just which of these freshman GOP fruitcakes do you expect to survive the voters in 2012? Several dozen won in districts carried by Obama. A dozen won in districts carried by John Kerry. You don't win office by carrying the elderly vote at record levels and then go to Washington and vote to kill Medicare and expect seniors to buy your crap again. And you don't 'Wisconsinize' politics and expect Democrats to fail to turn out as they famously did in 2010 (hence, the desperate efforts in voter suppression). It's very difficult for a Do-Nothing Congress to avoid anti-incumbant backlash. Tea Party in office with not a single jobs bill debated, let alone passed.

24 seats and it's Nancy back in charge.

And let's be serious, Republicans don't even have a name of an "electable candidate" let alone an inclination to nominate such a person. It's difficult to come up with one Obama state voting GOP. North Carolina perhaps? Although the polling there indicates otherwise. Obama doesn't have to be the fastest gazelle on the savanna. He just needs to be faster than an elephant that keeps stopping to screw over the other animals.

The GOP "brand" is now marked in voters mind -- crazy, unfit, extreme, ridiculous.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 7 months ago

Obama is seriously unfit and ridiculous every day he holds office. 'Nuff said.

tbaker 6 years, 7 months ago

House passes "bill." Exactly. A bill is all they passed. They certainly did not pass a solution to the problem.

Assuming every penny of the proposed cuts in the "bill" actually does occur (huge assumption) then our national debt will still rise to about $20 trillion by 2020. If congress would have done nothing at all? The debt would rise to $23 trillion by 2010.

These clowns just don't get it. Our country is headed for the fiscal cliff and this is the best they can do. It is going to take an election to fix this. Since congress won't, the voters will have to the work in 2012.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

I agree-- let's vote in nothing but tea partiers in 2012. The sooner we can turn this place into Somalia West, the better.

tbaker 6 years, 7 months ago

So trying to do something to fix our huge and growing national debt is a bad thing? Stopping government deficit spending turns us into Somalia?

You've certainly chosen and appropriate screen name.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

"“As with any compromise, the outcome is far from satisfying,” conceded Obama"

This wasn't compromise. It was capitulation.

somedude20 6 years, 7 months ago

I truely hope the rich enjoy getting richer now! I was getting worried that they may run out of shekels to count. I am voting for Mr. Hanky next time cause with him, you know what you will get! Mr. Hanky Mr. Hanky Mr. Hanky

tbaker 6 years, 7 months ago

This no solution - it's just another "deal." The President's reckless spending continues. The debt keeps growings. We continue to borrow 40 on the dollar. There are absolutly zero budget cuts in th bill. The federal government will still run a deficit of $1 trillion next year. This deal will “cut” the 2012 budget of $3.6 trillion by just $22 billion, or less than 1 percent. They made the problem worse and put fixing it off till later. Same crap, different day. They all need to be un-elected.

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