U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, joined a pencil-slim majority of House members Friday in voting in favor of House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling proposal. The measure needed 217 votes to pass; it passed 218-210, with 22 Republicans voting “No,” and not a single Democrat voting for it.
Boehner’s bill would set up a two-stage process for raising the federal debt limit and cutting the federal deficit. It would require a second vote next year, with the second debt limit installment of $1.6 trillion contingent on congressional approval of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
The legislation met swift defeat in the Senate, which voted 59-41 to table it. President Barack Obama said he won’t sign a debt limit increase that fails to carry the nation through the 2012 election.
Asked why his boss voted for a bill that stood no chance of becoming law, Casey Bowman, the congresswoman’s spokesman, said, “Jaime’s role is to vote on the proposals that are put before her in Congress. Today’s proposal represents the House’s second, reworked solution to avert the debt crisis. The House has done its job now — twice. It’s time for the Senate and president to step up and do theirs.”
In a statement released after the vote, Herrera Beutler said, “All through the debate over how to address the debt ceiling, I have maintained that our solution must meet three criteria. First, it must protect Social Security. Not only does this plan include no cuts to Social Security benefits, it helps us meet our debt obligations and stops the administration from making a decision to withhold Social Security checks.
“Second, I said I could not support a plan that included any increase in tax rates on families and small businesses in my district. This plan does not include a single tax increase.
“Third, the plan must put our country back on a financially responsible path by addressing Washington, D.C.’s overspending problem. This plan not only changes the trajectory of this country’s spending, it makes a down payment on lowering our nation’s debt.”
Herrera Beutler said she did not want the Aug. 2 expiration of the current debt limit to pass without a solution that will avert default.
“This plan represents the second solution in that many weeks that I have helped send to the Senate, after last week’s bipartisan ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ proposal,” she said. “The plan I voted for today isn’t perfect, but it’s a serious proposal to meet the nation’s debt obligations without issuing D.C. another ‘blank check.’ “
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a statement accusing Herrera Beutler of “bowing to arm-twisting from Republican leaders” and voting for a bill “that could recklessly raise interest rates for consumers” on credit cards, car loans and mortgages.
“Herrera Beutler backed this controversial proposal that could jeopardize the nation’s AAA credit rating and raise interest rates for consumers instead of finally standing up to her Republican leadership and demanding Big Oil and multimillionaires pay their fair share,” the DCCC said.