After months of debate, tonight the House of Representatives passed S.365, the Budget Control Act of 2011, to raise the debt ceiling and enact some spending reforms. Specifically, it would reduce deficits by $917 billion over ten years by capping spending levels and in return raise the debt ceiling $900 billion. In addition, it requires a vote on a balanced budget amendment in both the House and the Senate after October 2, 2011 but before the end of the year. It then establishes a commission tasked with finding an additional $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by November 23, 2011. A second debt ceiling increase of $1.5 trillion would be permitted at the beginning of next year if the balanced budget amendment is sent to the states for ratification, or if the commission proposal includes cuts equal to or greater than $1.5 trillion and those cuts are passed into law. If neither happens, a $1.2 trillion debt limit increase would be attached to across the board spending cuts that would equal the difference between $1.2 trillion and the cuts enacted by the commission’s proposal. Congressman Westmoreland did not support the legislation.
“When these negotiations began in January, I made a promise that I would not vote for any legislation that didn’t include significant spending cuts and absolutely no tax increases. Unfortunately, the final plan did not include significant enough cuts and left open the possibility for tax increases through this bipartisan commission. In addition, it does not require a balanced budget amendment be sent to the states for ratification. Without that constitutional restraint placed on this Congress and future Congresses, we can never guarantee real spending reforms will happen.
“House Republicans also made a promise to the American people that we would bring back an open process here in Congress. Up until now, we have stuck with that promise. We’ve posted legislation on the internet and given the American people and Members of Congress 72 hours to review it. We’ve brought back open rules on appropriations bills, allowing Republican and Democrat members alike to offer amendments. But now, after this deal was crafted behind closed doors with only a few members of leadership at the table, we were given less than 12 hours to read and review this extremely important legislation. More time is needed to make an informed decision about legislation of this size and scope. Unfortunately, once again, Congress has waited until the last minute to act, pushing us up against this artificial August 2nd deadline and forcing a decision on a bill it seems no one actually likes.
“I and other Republicans in the House stuck by our leadership in the hopes we could keep Cut, Cap and Balance alive and negotiate a deal we could support. And while I know they worked hard to get the best deal possible, at the end of the day, it’s just not a deal I can support. I commend their efforts though. If you will recall, up until a few months ago, President Obama was still calling for a ‘clean’ debt ceiling increase and last night was still pushing for immediate tax increases on job creators. So we came a long way during these negotiations. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats and the White House stalled any attempt at real spending reform, resulting in this unpopular deal,” stated Westmoreland.
We missed this one, adding it now. From 7/29/11:
Westmoreland Votes to Reduce Deficits and Cap Federal Spending
Today, the House of Representatives passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. The legislation, dubbed ‘The Boehner Plan’ by the media, would cut federal deficits $917 billion over the next ten years and would allow for a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling. In addition, it requires the House and the Senate pass a balanced budget amendment in order for future debt ceiling increases to be allowed. Congressman Westmoreland voted in favor of the legislation.
“Obviously this is not a perfect plan. It doesn’t reduce deficits enough in my opinion. And raising the debt ceiling at all is something I have a real problem with. I’m concerned raising the debt ceiling once again maintains the ‘spend now, pay later’ approach both Democrats and Republicans in Washington have used in the past that got us into this mess.
“But this legislation has two very important aspects. First, it fulfills our promise and does not raise taxes. While Americans continue to suffer from high unemployment, the most irresponsible thing we could do would be to raise taxes on job creators. Second, it includes a balanced budget amendment. Specifically, it requires that a balanced budget amendment pass the House and the Senate and be sent to the states for ratification before any future increases to the debt ceiling would be allowed. If ratified, a balanced budget amendment would constitutionally require this Congress and all future Congresses to spend within their means, eliminating these kinds of debates in the future. Plus, it puts the power back in the hands of the people and the states and allows the American people the opportunity to once again tell Washington enough is enough; that they will no longer allow the federal government to irresponsibly spend our country into financial ruin.
“Right now, Republicans only have a majority in one half of one third of our federal government. So while we continue to fight for the serious spending cuts we need to fix our debt crisis, it’s going to be an uphill battle until we have a majority in the Senate and can win back the White House. I know that $917 billion in deficit reduction is a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the trillions of dollars this government spends each year. But at the end of the day, that still brings us $917 billion closer to getting our fiscal house in order. Whether we like it or not – and I definitely do not – we are going to have to chip away at our national debt a little bit at a time because Senate Democrats and the president don’t seem to want to kick their spending addiction. Like I’ve said in the past, you can’t stop an aircraft carrier on a dime and you can’t stop a federal budget of almost $4 trillion a year in one day. But at least, with a balanced budget amendment we can stop them in the future.
“Now I know that President Obama has threatened to veto this bill if it reaches his desk because it doesn’t raise the debt ceiling enough to cover his spending habits through his reelection next year. Here’s what I have to say to him: I’m calling your bluff Mr. President. If you choose to veto legislation that puts us on the path of deficit reduction for political purposes and force this country to fail to meet its financial obligations – something you said Monday night would ‘risk sparking a deep economic crisis’ – then you will have to deal with the consequences your irresponsible actions have caused.
“House Republicans have now passed two separate pieces of legislation that give the country the means of meeting our financial obligations while reducing deficits and putting us back on the path of fiscal responsibility. Senate Democrats and the president have held lots of press conferences where they’ve talked about ‘grand deals’ and the need for ‘compromise’ and a ‘balanced approach’ – but they haven’t written a single bill to enact any of their plans. Since they can’t seem to take the time to actually draft their own legislation, the responsible thing to do here is for the Senate to pass the Budget Control Act and for the president to sign it. And I strongly encourage them to do so,” stated Westmoreland.