Reid: No One Happy With Budget-debt Deal
August 2, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — No one’s happy with the budget deal to raise the U.S. debt limit and cut spending, the Senate majority leader said ahead of his chamber’s vote on the measure.
“Everybody had to give something up,” said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset.”
The Senate, where approval of the deal is considered likely, was to vote on the measure around noon EDT Tuesday.
Approval would send the measure to President Barack Obama and give the U.S. Treasury an immediate $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, less than 12 hours before a midnight deadline when the department has said it could become unable to meet all its financial obligations.
The compromise measure passed the House, despite grumbles, 269-161 Monday night, with 95 Democrats joining 66 Republicans in voting no.
The plan raises the $14.3 trillion debt limit $2.1 trillion to $2.4 trillion in three steps.
Besides the $400 billion released upon Obama’s signature, $500 billion would be available in the fall, unless two-thirds of both chambers vote to prevent it, and a final increase would come early next year, giving the Treasury enough borrowing power to pay bills into early 2013, after the 2012 presidential election.
The measure cuts $917 billion in spending over 10 years, starting with a $21 billion in the fiscal year that starts in October. The $21 billion is less than 1 percent of next fiscal year’s $3.7 trillion budget.
Of the initial $917 billion in cuts, $350 billion come from defense.
The bill creates a congressional committee charged with closing the deficit an additional $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion. If the panel deadlocks or Congress doesn’t accept its plan, a prearranged set of spending cuts would kick in.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pointed out the “trigger” would exempt programs for people with low incomes, including Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps and children’s health and nutrition programs.
Despite her yes vote, she criticized the agreement for asking nothing of the wealthy, The Wall Street Journal reported.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters: “We are cutting spending. We are spending less money next year in discretionary spending than we spent last year. You haven’t heard that kind of a statement before around this town.”
“Did we get 100 percent of the discretionary cuts we were looking for? No, we got two-thirds,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said at the same news conference. “That’s better than zero. I’ll take two-thirds in my direction than anything else, and we’re going in our direction.”
Compared with Ryan’s GOP budget blueprint — released in April and passed in the House but rejected in the Senate — the new agreement provides about $44 billion more for domestic programs, including Pell grants for students going to college, and $10 billion less for defense, The Washington Post reported.
The House partisan rancor halted briefly near the end of the vote for the measure when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., made an unexpected appearance in the chamber to cast her first vote — in favor of the debt deal — since she was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in Tucson in early January.
The full chamber erupted in loud applause as Giffords walked tentatively to her seat.
Pelosi said: “There isn’t a name that stirs more love, more admiration, more respect.”
“Thank you, Gabby,” she added.
“The Capitol looks beautiful tonight,” Giffords later posted in a message on Twitter, “and I am honored to be at work tonight.”