Iowa delegation unanimously opposes debt ceiling hike

The U.S. House of Representatives failed to approve a presidential request to increase the debt ceiling yesterday. Members rejected a motion to suspend the rules and proceed with that bill by a 318 to 97 vote (roll call). Every House Republican present voted against raising the debt ceiling, including Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05). Nearly half the Democratic caucus also voted against yesterday’s motion, including Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03). House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer advised Democratic colleagues to reject what he described as a “political charade” aimed at producing fodder for campaign attack ads. Bruce Braley (IA-01) missed yesterday’s vote to attend a family funeral but released a statement saying he would have opposed raising the debt ceiling. I’ve posted his comments after the jump. Since last November’s election, Braley has consistently been talking like a deficit hawk.

The U.S. hit its current debt ceiling in mid-May. If Congress does not raise the limit by August 2, the federal government will not be able to pay all of its bills. Republican leaders are pushing for major domestic spending cuts as a condition for raising the borrowing limit. Naturally, austerity won’t apply to the military budget, and that’s fine with Boswell, Loebsack, Latham and King.

I believe Democrats are making a mistake by accepting Republican demands for strings attached to the debt ceiling hike. President Bill Clinton refused to make such negotiations part of a deal on raising the borrowing limit in 1995, saying he would not let Congressional Republicans use the occasion to “backdoor their budget proposals.”

King asserted yesterday that repealing the federal health insurance reform law would “save the taxpayers $2.6 trillion” and would be a good start toward finding spending cuts to offset the president’s debt request. I’ve posted his full statement after the jump. At this writing I have not seen official comments on the debt ceiling from Loebsack, Boswell or Latham. If those become available, I will update this post.

UPDATE: Latham’s statements on the debt ceiling are now after the jump.

Statement from Representative Bruce Braley, May 31:

“I was disappointed when the Majority moved up the vote on the debt ceiling limit. I was in my hometown today, serving as a pallbearer for my uncle, Lyle Nesselroad – a Navy veteran of World War II. I grew up next door to Lyle, and he was like a second father to me. While I regret that I will be missing this important vote, I don’t regret my decision to be there with my family. Had I been present, I would have voted against the Debt Limit Extension Act.

“I’m reluctant to raise the debt ceiling when we have no fiscally responsible plan to address our national debt. The American people have spoken loudly and clearly – they want us to take immediate action to rein in spending and find new revenues to get our deficit under control. Congress must develop a fiscally responsible plan that makes tough choices and reduces our debt.”

Representative Steve King statement, May 31:

Congressman King: President’s $2.4 trillion debt increase could be offset by repealing ObamaCare

Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) released the following statement after voting against H.R. 1954, legislation that unconditionally raises the nation’s debt limit by $2.4 trillion. The Obama administration has repeatedly asserted that the debt limit should be increased by $2.4 trillion, and it has opposed efforts to attach significant spending cuts and major budgetary reforms to the debt limit legislation. H.R. 1954 was drafted to mirror the President’s proposal. The House defeated the legislation by a vote of 318-97, a margin that stands as a clear rebuke to the President’s irresponsible debt limit request.

“President Obama is asking for the ability to place Americans $2.4 trillion deeper into debt with no strings attached, and that is irresponsible,” said King. “America faces a debt crisis not because Washington taxes too little, but because the President and his liberal supporters in Congress spend too much. Unless the debt ceiling legislation includes major spending cuts, significant budget reforms, or both, Congress should not increase the debt limit. If the President needs help finding spending cuts to offset his $2.4 trillion debt request, I would suggest to him that repealing ObamaCare would save the taxpayers $2.6 trillion and we should start there.”

Representative Tom Latham statement, June 1:



Washington, Jun 1 –

Iowa Congressman Tom Latham renewed his call for Washington to live within its means on Wednesday, a day after voting against a Democrat inspired measure to increase the nation’s debt limit by another $2.4 trillion.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted down legislation Tuesday evening that would have given the government permission to expand the national debt to as much as $16.7 trillion.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) cleared the measure for an up or down vote following the request to House Democratic leadership by 114 of their members in an April 15th letter to “establish a Democratic position in favor of a clean extension of the debt ceiling” when a vote was taken in the House.  President Obama also called for a “clean” vote on the debt limit rather than tying it to spending or deficit reduction measures. Congressman Latham called such an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling irresponsible.

“Iowans know that when you max out your credit card, the most irresponsible thing you can do is borrow even more money,” Congressman Latham said.  “We can’t keep giving Washington permission in the form of a blank check to continue to spend beyond its means.  Raising the debt limit without enacting real common sense spending reforms is a perfect example of what’s wrong with Washington.”

Congressman Latham said increasing the legislation to increase the debt ceiling would create even more economic uncertainty for families and small businesses.  Before a long-term economic recovery can set in, Washington must get serious about fiscal responsibility, he said.

“The House of Representatives sent a clear message that we’re committed to giving job creators the certainty they need to plan for the future and begin hiring again,” Congressman Latham said. “If the bill voted down Tuesday night were to become law, Congress would send a completely different message to the American people.  Passage of that bill would have forced our children and grandchildren to deal with the disastrous consequences of continued borrowing, spending and taxing. I’m glad the House made the sensible decision.”

Editorial Latham sent to the media:

LATHAM REPORT: Increase in Debt Ceiling Absolutely Irresponsible

Washington, Jun 2 – By Iowa Congressman Tom Latham

Our country stands at the brink of a truly momentous decision.  The federal government has reached its debt limit and no longer has authority to continue borrowing without action by the U.S. Congress.  This debate is an opportunity for the American people to make a stand and return our country to the path of common sense – fiscal discipline – and basically forcing Washington to live within its means.  On the other hand, if we choose to continue the same status quo policies that sent federal spending skyrocketing to historic heights, we’ll be jeopardizing the ideal of the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.  Increasing the country’s debt limit would be among the most irresponsible decisions Congress could make in our situation, and, for many Americans, it is an action that is a perfect example of what is wrong with Washington.  

The federal government’s debt ceiling currently stands at around $14.3 trillion.  We’ve already reached that limit, and many in Washington have called on Congress simply to increase the limit by trillions of dollars – no strings attached – so that Washington can continue the spending binges of the last few years.  In fact, just this week, a vote was held in the U.S. House of Representatives to give the government permission to expand the national debt by an additional $2.4 trillion to as much as $16.7 trillion.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) cleared the measure for an up or down vote following the request to House Democratic leadership by 114 of their members in an April 15th letter to “establish a Democratic position in favor of a clean extension of the debt ceiling” when a vote was taken in the House.  President Obama also called for a “clean” vote on the debt limit rather that tying it to spending or deficit reduction measures.

This vote was like calling your credit card company for an increase in your borrowing limit because you have maxed out your cards.  Iowans understand that it is just plain fiscal common sense that if you’ve maxed out your credit card, the most irresponsible thing you can do is continue borrowing money.  But a vote to raise the debt ceiling does just that.  It gives the government permission to continue borrowing.  Not many credit card companies would extend the trust of credit to a serial over-spender – neither should the American people with a Washington that continues to blow through every debt limit ever set.

I stood on principle and opposed the increase to the debt limit, and I am happy to report that the bill was defeated. My vote against an increase in the debt limit is a clear message to Iowa families, farmers and small business owners that I will not allow Washington to continue to spend money we don’t have.  And, that it is far past time that Washington gets to work on real solutions that will put our country on the path to fiscal responsibility. The taxing, spending and borrowing of the last few years have left job creators with countless unanswered questions, prolonging the economic downturn.

Raising the debt limit would have sent a signal to the American people and to the world that Washington is continuing to kick the can down the road and putting off the tough decisions that need to be made. As most common-sense Americans know, there is not much road left in that scenario, and the consequences of failing to act with real comprehensive solutions to these problems are unimaginable.

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  • Excellent write up

    I personally hope they write some of the Bowles-Simpson proposal into legislative language and it passes, but that won’t happen.  Those reports always gather dust it seems.