Vermont delegation splits vote on budget deal: Leahy, yes; Sanders and Welch, no

first_imgThe Vermont congressional delegation typically votes as a united block. But the budget crisis gripping Congress has broken their unity. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy voted for it, while Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic Representative Peter Welch voted against the measure. The US Senate, needing 60 yes votes, passed the debt ceiling bill, 74-26, and President Obama signed it today ending, for at least a couple of months, the strangled hold it had on the budget, the economy, and Washington politics. In the end, 28 Republicans and six Democrats voted against it in the Senate. The two independents, Sanders and Joe Lieberman, split, with the Connecticut senator voting for it. In last night’s House vote, the measure passed 269 to 161, getting votes from 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats.In general, the moderates in both parties supported the compromise. The deal calls for $2 trillion of budget cuts over the next decade, with an immediate $400 billion increase in the $14.3 trillion federal borrowing limit, which needed to be enacted today. That $400 million has to be matched with $400 billion in cuts, according to the deal. There is another $500 billion more cuts coming this fall. That $900 billion would be matched by cuts to agency budgets over the next 10 years. While a 12-member, bi-partisan panel will hash out much of the details of what exactly will be cut or what taxes could be raised, the compromise signed by the president today includes no tax increases.The statements below offered by Vermont’s delegation are reflective of the Congress in general, where no one seemed happy with the deal, even those who voted for it. Remarks of Senator Patrick Leahy Senate Passage Of The Bipartisan Agreement On The Debt Ceiling Tuesday, August 2, 2011 – With no time to spare, this bipartisan solution has averted a manufactured crisis that has held hostage our entire economy and every American family in it. A default on U.S. obligations for the first time in our history would have imposed incalculable harm and a credit rate tax on every citizen, every state, every community and every business.This is not a solution I would have preferred, but the compromise finally reached by the White House and congressional leaders puts common sense and the national interest above partisanship and ideology.Our country was pushed to the brink of catastrophe. The choice at hand was not this bill or something better. The choice is between the only bipartisan practical solution to the debt ceiling crisis, or a devastating default on the nation’s debts for the first time in our history. A default would send shock waves throughout our fragile economy. It would slap a credit rate tax on every household and every business in Vermont and across the country.The bipartisan agreement includes $3 trillion in spending reductions reached through bipartisan negotiations that will yield the greatest overall budget savings ever. Just as Vermont families are having to make difficult financial decisions, we need to make long-term budget reforms, and the country should be spared the ordeal of having to go through this same kind of torment again just a few months from now.The Special Congressional Committee chartered by this legislation to recommend future deficit reduction can consider revenue measures, and I will continue to push for an end to outdated tax loopholes for giant oil firms and companies that ship American jobs overseas. I also continue to believe that the wealthiest Americans should pay their fair share in these solutions.If the Special Congressional Committee fails to make bipartisan recommendations, then the agreement calls for cuts in defense spending and protections for Social Security, Medicare benefits, Medicaid, veterans benefits and child nutrition. I strongly support these protections.All along the American people have wanted this debt-limit crisis resolved promptly and fairly through the give-and-take of our representative government. It is extremely unfortunate that many who manufactured this crisis in the first place then stood in the way of a solution for weeks on end, threatening the first default on United States obligations in our history.Many in the Senate recall, as I do, the period just two short decades ago when Congress and a Democratic president were able to balance the federal budget and create budget surpluses that were on their way to paying off the national debt altogether. I remember also the key Senate vote to put us on that path, which had to be achieved without any support from the other side of the aisle. Those balanced budgets and surpluses also were achieved without any constitutional amendment requiring them. And those surpluses grew, until subsequent decisions were made by a new administration, and ratified by a new Congress, that squandered the surpluses and piled the debt up once again.What the American people want, need, and deserve is a return to wise and disciplined leadership. We need the return of a willingness to cooperate and to forge solutions across partisan lines to solve the most pressing issues facing the country. The economic health of the nation and the jobs of millions of hardworking Americans should not be mired in politics.The Senate throughout history has shown its remarkable ability to rise up in times of crisis to reflect the conscience of the nation. Once again, for the good of the country, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers were able to rise to the occasion and put an end to a contrived crisis that has put our entire economy at risk.Sanders Votes No on ‘An Extremely Unfair Agreement’WASHINGTON, August 2 ‘ Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today after voting against what he called ‘an extremely unfair’ deficit-reduction package:‘I believe that Vermonters and people across the country are extremely dismayed that all of the burden for deficit reduction will fall on the backs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. This extremely unfair agreement does not ask the wealthiest people in this country, most of whom are doing extremely well, or large profitable corporations to contribute one penny. This is not only immoral, it is bad economic policy and will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.‘It is impossible at this point to determine exactly what programs will be cut or by how much. That will be determined later in the committee process and I will do everything I can to defend priorities important to Vermont. What we can say, however, is that vitally important programs for Vermont, like LIHEAP, education, Head Start, child care, community health centers, the MILC program for dairy farmers, Pell grants for college students, nutrition programs, environmental protection, affordable housing, community action agencies, small business loans and many other programs will be on the chopping block.‘Further, the so-called deficit reduction super committee of six senators and six House members will have the power to make devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans.‘All of us understand that the current deficit situation is unsustainable and that we need responsible action to address it. It is unconscionable, however, that this agreement would place the entire burden on working families and some of the most vulnerable people in our country.’Welch statement on budget deal voteWASHINGTON, DC ‘ Rep. Peter Welch issued the following statement after the House voted on a budget deal negotiated between the White House and congressional leaders. Welch opposed the measure, which passed by a vote of 269 to 161.‘From the start of this debate, I have been guided by two objectives: First, America must pay its bills. Congress and the President should negotiate, but America should never default. Second, we need a balanced agreement that puts everything on the table.‘While I am pleased that, with this agreement, America will continue to pay its bills, I voted against it because it is not a balanced plan with shared sacrifice. It ignores glaring inequities in the federal tax code while cutting programs important to the middle class, seniors, and low-income Americans. There is simply no excuse for condoning continued tax breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers, the ethanol industry and big oil companies while the middle class struggles to hang on to their jobs, pay their bills and send their children to college.‘I also voted against this bill because it validates the tactic of putting a gun to the head of the American economy to advance a party’s agenda. Never before has a willful majority in Congress held hostage the full faith and credit of the United States of America in order to get its way on the budget. This is a dangerous precedent that will make it more difficult than ever for Congress to meet the many challenges facing our country. It is regrettable that those who employed it have succeeded.’last_img read more