A compromise to raise the nation’s debt ceiling in exchange for deep budget cuts passes the House and moves to the Senate.
In the end it passed easily in the House: 269-to-161. Nebraska’s Congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry calls it a constructive solution that’s far from perfect.
“Well, it’s been very intense and dramatic. All of us had hoped to avoid an 11th hour compromise like this, but unfortunately it came down to the 11th hour,” Fortenberry, a Republican, tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I think, for me, there were two key principles at work: first, to stop the overspending and second, to help America pay her bills.”
The office of Congressman Adrian Smith, a Republican, issued a statement after the vote.
“This legislation is not the ultimate solution to our debt crisis, but it contains significant accomplishments as we continue to move forward on the path to fiscal sustainability. It immediately cuts spending, caps future spending, and paves the way for a balanced budget amendment – all without raising taxes. While much greater spending cuts would have been preferred, this bill demonstrates how the American people have changed the debate in Washington. The focus has shifted from ‘how much can we spend’ to how we must stop spending money we do not have.”
Congressman Lee Terry posted a statement on his Facebook page.
“This bill is not the solution I would have liked to have seen. However, we have changed the conversation in Washington from one of spending to one of cutting. The President is no longer calling for a blank check, but is working with Republicans and Democrats to cut spending. This bill reflects this shift in direction by enacting immediate spending cuts, controlling future spending without raising taxes, and requiring votes on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, an issue I’ve worked on for years.”
The bill before Congress reflects intense weekend negotiations between leaders in Congress and the White House. The deal will raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion and cut the federal budget over the next 10 years by the same amount. Neither would be enacted immediately. The debt ceiling would be raised in three stages. Budget cuts would begin with $900 billion in cuts initially. Then, a special Congressional committee would be charged to find another $1.5 trillion to reduce the deficit which could be achieved through a combination of budget cuts and increased revenue through changes to the tax code.
The nation’s borrowing limit stands at $14.29 trillion. The Treasury Department had warned that unless Congress acted to give it authority to borrow more the nation faced default. As the deadline drew near and Congress delayed action, the Treasury Department began to draft plans for which obligations would be paid and which would not.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the measure Tuesday.