House votes to raise debt ceiling

Published 8:20 pm Monday, August 1, 2011

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Monday night in the “11th hour” to raise the national debt limit, a move that will keep the government operation — at least for now.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued a statement following the announcement Monday that a deal had been reached to raise the debt ceiling.

“I am glad that this matter appears to be on its way to resolution prior to August 2,” Sessions said. “However, I have warned from the very beginning that by shunning our Legislative process and Senate heritage we would find ourselves in the 11th hour forced to vote on a bill with little or no time for meaningful review or public engagement, and without any chance to amend the work.”

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True to Sessions’ warning about voting in the 11th hour, the House voted 269-161 Monday evening in favor of the bill, a mere day before the deadline for action.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), member of the House Committee on Armed Services, said even though she would have preferred the “more fundamental reforms found in the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance Act,’ this compromise cuts a dollar of spending for every new dollar of debt.”

“Every dollar saved under the plan approved tonight is a result of their steadfast advocacy on behalf of the American people,” Roby said, in a statement shortly after the passing of the bill.

Roby said the final legislation was far from perfect, but praised the bills’ passing as a “significant accomplishment.”

“That is a significant accomplishment given that Democrats—who wanted new taxes and no spending reductions—outnumbered Republicans two to one at the negotiating table,” Roby said.

Roby, who voted for two separate proposals—each stifled by Democrats in the Senate—in an effort to “significantly cut future spending, put our nation on firmer financial footing, and avoid a potentially catastrophic default,” said she was pleased the default has been avoided, but, even still, she could not support the bill.

“I was unable to support this legislation because, after a careful reading of the bill, I fear it could ultimately result in devastating and unjustified cuts to our national security,” Roby said. “This bill, unlike previous proposals I supported, has a weak firewall against potentially destructive defense cuts. To be sure, there are savings to be found in the Pentagon’s budget, and I have already voted this year to trim wasteful and unnecessary defense spending. But this bill goes much too far.”

Roby said the bill, with all its positive qualities, would serve as an “insurance policy” of sorts.

“The legislation would use our defense budget as an insurance policy to guarantee savings in the event that the special joint committee, which this legislation creates, fails to achieve cuts in other areas of the government bureaucracy,” Roby said.

Although the legislation reduces deficit, Roby said her concern was “the cuts would be so deep as to affect the readiness of our troops around the world.”

Roby said she hopes some of those “potential military cuts” never become realized.

“In the end, I hope that the special joint committee will find the spending cuts that it is charged to identify, and I look forward to reviewing the product of its work. Our prayer is that the special joint committee members will do their jobs, thereby ensuring that the damaging military cuts that could occur never see the light of day.”

Regarding the broader question of “restoring fiscal responsibility,” Roby said the work has just begun.

“This has been a long and convoluted process, but the takeaway is simple: in a short period of time, House Republicans have successfully changed the conversation in Washington from ‘how do we spend more’ to ‘how do we spend less,’” Roby said. “Even so, much work remains, and only a sustained, dedicated effort will truly change the spending culture in Washington.”