August 2, 2011
Pittsburgh Business Times
Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation split — and not along party lines — in the vote late Monday to increase the U.S. debt ceiling and cut spending.
S. 365 passed the House 269-161. Four local Congressmen — U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair; U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler; Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown; and U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless Township — voted to support the bill. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pittsburgh, was the only Pennsylvania representative to vote against the measure.
The vote now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to be voted upon around noon. If approved, it will be signed into law by President Obama.
“This bill represents a historic shift in how we deal with our finances: no more unchecked borrowing,” said Murphy in a prepared statement. “The national conversation is no longer about how much Washington spends, but how much Congress can cut.”
Altmire announced Monday afternoon, before the vote, that he was in favor of the bill and said the centrist and bipartisan approach was best.
“This package makes the responsible cuts in Washington’s long history of over-spending without harming Social Security, veterans’ benefits and military pay,” Altmire said. “Because this debt limit increase does not put us back in this situation six months from now, this bill provides a sense of certainty to our financial markets that have been unhappy with the process involved with fulfilling our credit obligations.”
In explaining his no vote, Doyle said he didn’t think the bill would reduce the deficit.
“Spending cuts in the middle of an economic crisis slow the economy down and choke off job growth — as recent economic figures for the second quarter have shown,” Doyle said in a prepared statement after the bill. “Unless we grow the economy, spending cuts won’t get the deficit under control. That’s why I believe that Congress must enact a more comprehensive approach that includes tax reform along with spending cuts.”
Critz said in a statement that he wasn’t happy with some of the provisions but was concerned about default.
“While I am opposed to a number of cuts and provisions in this legislation, default is simply not an option, and failing to raise our nation’s debt ceiling would have a disastrous effect on our economy and would hurt American families,” Critz said.