John Boehner and the Republican caucus in the House passed the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act as promised on a near-party-line vote tonight, 234-190. The move puts the onus back on the White House to propose an alternative or assume responsibility for killing the debt-ceiling hike it contains:
Defying a veto threat, the Republican-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday night to slice federal spending by $6 trillion and require a constitutional balanced budget amendment to be sent to the states in exchange for averting a threatened government default.
The 234-190 vote marked the power of deeply conservative first-term Republicans, and stood in contrast to stirrings at the White House and in the Senate on a renewed effort at bipartisanship to solve the looming debt crisis.
Members of Congress have begun to fill e-mail inboxes with their reaction. From the upper chamber, Pat Toomey “applauds”:
“Today, my House colleagues have shown a willingness to raise the debt limit, but only if the president puts us on a path to a balanced budget. I applaud the House’s passage of the Cut, Cap and Balance Act and hope that the Senate will send this bill to the president’s desk,” Sen. Toomey said. “I find it hard to believe that the president would be so opposed to a path to a balanced federal budget that he would veto this legislation and reject the debt ceiling increase he claims is absolutely vital for the country.”
Paul Ryan declares victory:
“The House of Representatives continues to advance serious solutions to get our budget on the path to balance and our economy on the path to prosperity. The Cut, Cap and Balance legislation passed today cuts $5.8 trillion in spending over the next decade, locks in those savings with enforceable caps on spending, and forces Washington to finally live within its means with a Balanced Budget Amendment.
“The coming debt crisis is the single most predictable economic disaster in the history of this nation. Unfortunately, the White House refuses to put forth a credible plan to solve our spending problem, and Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in over 800 days. I remain hopeful that responsible leaders will work with us to advance specific solutions that uphold our solemn commitment to leave the next generation with a stronger, more prosperous nation than the one we inherited.”
However, Paul Broun sounds a dissent:
“I gave my word to my constituents in Georgia and to the rest of the American people that I would not vote for any bill that increases the debt limit. Although the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill is a step in the right direction, it still raises the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, and we simply cannot afford it.
“Also missing from the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill is the urgency to pay down the debt by immediately reducing the outrageous spending levels to which Washington has become so accustomed. Unfortunately, the cuts outlined in Cut, Cap, and Balance take effect over a period of ten years. We no longer have ten years to spare – it’s too little, too late.
“Undoubtedly, we have to cap spending and we must enact a balanced budget amendment, but Congress can get these tasks done without raising the debt ceiling. I have introduced bills to both lower the debt ceiling and to balance the budget.
“We’ve been down this road before. Administrations of the past have agreed to raise the debt ceiling on a contingency that cuts would be made in future budgets – but those cuts never materialized. It’s long past time to stop obligating our constitutional duties – along with our budgetary problems – to both future Congresses and future generations.”
Similarly, Michele Bachmann voted no on the final passage. She had been adamant about not raising the debt ceiling, offering a yes vote only in exchange for a full repeal of ObamaCare.
Either way, Republicans have now passed their second bill this session that attempts to address the exploding deficits and the debt crisis, the first being Paul Ryan’s budget plan in April. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate haven’t bothered to pass any budget resolution in over 800 days, and the White House still refuses to offer any specific ideas.