Arkansas’ congressmen vote against debt ceiling hike

Arkansas’ four congressmen today voted against H.R. 1954, the bill that would raise the country’s debt ceiling past its current $14.3 trillion limit. The bill failed with not a single Republican voting for it.

This does not mean the debt ceiling won’t be raised. There is still plenty of time before the country runs up against the time limit and begins to fail to make good on its obligations. The press releases I have received – from Reps. Ross, Griffin and Womack – indicate that the congressmen voted against the bill because it included no structural spending reforms.

I’m fine with that. For a long time, deficits in Washington have been all-too-business as usual. Ultimately, Congress will have to vote to raise the ceiling – and it will, despite all the saber-rattling. Let’s hope the congressmen get what they want and that the bill includes spending reforms.

Here are the statements released by the three congressmen, in the order that I received them. I have not yet heard from Rep. Rick Crawford from the First District.

ROSS – “I voted against raising the nation’s debt ceiling today because we’ve got to send a strong message that it’s past time to stop the out-of-control spending in Washington. Before I can support any increase in the debt ceiling, it must include meaningful spending cuts that will actually reduce our deficits without punishing America’s working families and seniors.

“The debt ceiling isn’t about new spending; it’s about meeting the debts and obligations we’ve already committed. It has been increased 36 times over the last 30 years, with President Reagan signing 17 debt limit increases into law and President Obama signing three so far. The debt ceiling problem isn’t new, but it’s reached a level that is unsustainable. Congress needs to stop the partisan bickering and start working together to draft a commonsense compromise that preserves America’s standing in the global economy, cuts spending and reduces our deficit.

“Instead of playing games with the debt limit, we should instead focus on how to get our nation’s fiscal house back in order. That’s why I have worked hard as co-chair of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition to pass components of our Blueprint for Fiscal Reform, cosponsoring 15 deficit or debt reducing bills, many of which have become law. This Congress, I’ve also voted to cut $38 billion from the 2011 budget and am working hard to build support for the Blue Dog Benchmarks for Fiscal Reform, which aims to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Reducing our deficit is and will continue to be my focus in Congress as a fiscal conservative and as a Representative from Arkansas.”

GRIFFIN – “Tonight, I voted ‘No’ to raising the national debt limit and will remain opposed to raising it without serious structural spending reform. Neither the President nor Senator Reid has a plan to deal with the federal government’s out-of-control spending, but the House does. They should adopt the House’s reforms to save Medicare, reduce spending and encourage private-sector job creation. I understand the gravity of what is at stake and addressing the root cause of the debt—out-of-control spending—is the only way forward.”

WOMACK – “I have said all along that the fiscal situation facing our nation is among our highest priorities in Congress. It is unconscionable to consider an increase in the debt ceiling without significant and guaranteed limits on federal spending.

“We cannot continue to add to the burden of future generations by ignoring our obligation to control spending.”

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