Members of the Kansas congressional delegation are unified in party -- Republican -- but they were divided on the bill aimed at avoiding a first-ever U.S. government default.
In the Senate, Pat Roberts voted for the measure, signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama, and Jerry Moran voted against it.
In the House, Lynn Jenkins of Topeka and Mike Pompeo of Wichita voted for it and Kevin Yoder of Overland Park and Tim Huelskamp of Fowler voted against it. Jenkins’ 2nd District includes western Lawrence, and Yoder’s 3rd includes eastern Lawrence.
Roberts articulated the thoughts of many in Congress who voted for the bill -- they didn’t like it but believed it was necessary to avoid an economic nightmare. The Senate approved it, 74-26, with 46 Democrats and 28 Republicans in support.
“My first priority in voting today was to ensure our country did not default, which could have sent our country into economic chaos at a time when our economy is already on the brink,” Roberts said. “I will never play roulette with Kansans’ life savings,” he said.
Roberts added the measure was only a stopgap. “The battle to control spending is far from over. I view this debt ceiling debate as the opening salvo in an on-going effort to tighten the government's fiscal belt,” he said.
But Moran had a different take. “The truth is this plan does not offer a solution to the underlying problem of our crisis today: Our government’s out of control spending. Even if fully enacted, it only slows the growth of spending, and just barely,” he said.
The measure increased the federal government’s borrowing limit, and set into motion a potential cut of $2 trillion in spending.
Huelskamp agreed with Moran in opposing the bill, adding that he was also against giving a 12-member, bi-partisan committee the task of proposing $1.5 trillion in cuts later this year.
“I believe conservatives should make good on their promises to cut trillions in spending, enact structural reforms, and fill the role of elected representatives, rather than hand control to an exclusive committee,” Huelskamp said.
It was approved in the House 269-161 with 175 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting for the bill.
Jenkins said while the bill wasn’t perfect, it was necessary and provided a good first step.
“We have passed a bill that avoids default, cuts nearly a trillion dollars from our bloated federal budget, lays out a plan to cut trillions more, requires an up-or-down vote on a balanced budget amendment, and all without increasing a single American’s taxes,” Jenkins said.
But her congressional neighbor, Yoder, said he couldn’t vote for it. “Although I commend our leaders for working out a temporary solution against choppy political waters, I could not join in an effort that did not solve the problems that got us into this spot in the first place. To borrow a phrase, I was not persuaded by the logic that Congress would gladly pay Tuesday for a hamburger today.”