NE Delegation Split on Debt Ceiling Vote

Today’s Senate vote in favor of the bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and make over $2 trillion in federal spending cuts ends months of nationwide anxiety and heated debate over whether and how to address our nation’s growing debt.  This afternoon, the Senate voted 74-26 in favor of the deal, following the House’s 269-161 vote last night.

Members of the New England delegation were divided over the deal, particularly on the House side.  Of our six-state region’s 22 House members, 10 supported the deal, while the remaining 12 opposed it.  On the Senate side, the majority of the New England Senate delegation supported the deal, with only two senators voting against it.  Click here for a breakdown of how each member of the delegation voted.

Many of those who supported the deal did so discontentedly, saying that the bill is far from perfect, but preferable to a default.  Massachusetts Senator John Kerry told the Boston Globe, “It’s not the deal that a lot of us would have made, and it’s not the deal we wanted, but I think avoiding default is critical, paramount to the country.’’  Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes said in a statement, “Compromise is never pretty, and this bill is no cause for celebration.  But we achieved several important things tonight.  Most importantly, we have removed the calamitous specter of a default.”  Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline echoed their sentiments: “There’s a lot about this bill I don’t like, but my prerequisite for voting in favor of this bill was that we avoid a default and we protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid beneficiaries, which this bill does.”

Other supporters noted that the bill takes several steps in the right direction toward addressing federal spending.  Granite State Congressman Charlie Bass explained:  “While not perfect, this plan accomplishes several goals that are vital to getting our economy back on track. . . It gives our nation an opportunity to have a real debate on enacting a balanced budget amendment. . . It cuts spending more than it raises the debt ceiling.  It puts in place a framework for a joint, bipartisan committee to make recommendations on deficit reduction measures before the end of the year.”  Connecticut’s Senator Joe Lieberman tweeted: “I’m supporting the debt ceiling compromise proposal because its positives outweigh its negatives.”

Among those who opposed the deal, one common thread resonated in their explanations: the belief that the deal simply isn’t fair.  Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, who had fought for a clean vote on the debt ceiling, explained, “I voted against it because it is not a balanced plan with shared sacrifice.  It ignores glaring inequities in the federal tax code while cutting programs important to the middle class, seniors, and low-income Americans.”  Bay State Congressman John Tierney agreed, describing the bill as “an attack on our families, seniors, and students, [and] a protection racket for special interests, corporations and the fabulously wealthy.”

One thing both sides can agree on is that the American people have every right to be frustrated and disgusted with how the process has played out in Washington in recent weeks.  Maine Congressman Michael Michaud said in a statement, “How we got here was messy, and I join many Mainers in being disgusted with the process.”  Massachusetts Congresswoman Niki Tsongas said, “We never should have ended up in the position we find ourselves today, and I am frustrated with the process it took to get here.”

For more information on what the newly-passed bill includes, view the White House Fact Sheet on the legislation.  NEC Members can also view the Special Edition Washington Report summarizing the deal.

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