August 02, 2011

State Lawmakers Back Compromise | Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG - West Virginia's congressional delegation supports the last-minute compromise to raise the debt limit and cut spending.

"This never should have dragged on to the 11th hour, and I am disappointed that so many in Congress used this debate for political purposes," Sen. Jay Rockefeller said.

The compromise raises the debt limit by $2.4 trillion in two parts and calls for $917 billion in spending reductions over 10 years. A committee of 12 named by the House and Senate leaders must find $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion, also over 10 years, in deficit reductions by November, which must be approved by Congress by the end of the year, or automatic cuts take place in 2013, including in military spending and Medicare payments to healthcare providers.

The House approved the bill 269-141 Monday evening with all three West Virginia representatives, Shelley Moore Capito, David McKinley and Nick Rahall, voting in favor. The Senate votes today.

Rockefeller called it a reasonable compromise.

"The plan will allow us to extend the debt ceiling - avoiding a major economic catastrophe that would have hurt families and individuals from all backgrounds by raising interest rates, making it harder to get a loan and forcing the federal government to ration how it pays its bills," he said.

Senators of different parties have talked to each other more during the deficit talks than they have in the months before, Sen. Joe Manchin said Monday.

"If I see a silver lining, that would be it," said Manchin, D-W.Va.

Manchin, speaking to West Virginia reporters, announced Monday afternoon he would vote for the compromise reached this weekend to cut spending, raise the debt limit and reduce the deficit to prevent a default and a reduction of the nation's credit rating.

The agreement protects Social Security and Medicare and creates a 12-member panel of lawmakers to propose other spending cuts by the end of the year, but includes a provision for automatic reductions in 2013 if the committee fails, Manchin said.

"That is the trigger," Manchin said.

Those on the far right and left of the Democratic and Republican parties won't vote for it, Manchin said.

"I just hope there's enough of us in the middle to carry the day," Manchin said.

Manchin again apologized for the situation on Capitol Hill and what he called "dysfunctional partisan political process."

"I'm absolutely glad it's over," he said.

Standard and Poor's, a bond rating company, said it was likely the nation's AAA credit rating would be downgraded if $4 trillion in cuts were not made over the next 10 years. Manchin said that could still happen despite passing the compromise by Tuesday.

"I'm not sure we've dodged that bullet," Manchin said.

McKinley, R-1st, said it's not perfect, but is the right vote for the state, he said.

"This legislation guarantees at least $2.1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, cuts spending more than it hikes the debt limit, shuts down President Obama's attempt to raise taxes, enforces statutory spending caps for ten years, advances the cause of the Balanced Budget Amendment, and protects Social Security and Medicare benefits for our seniors," he said. "Perhaps most importantly for the American economy, it avoids a job-killing default and most likely a devastating downgrade of our credit rating, as well."

McKinley said the cut, cap and balance passed in the House was the best, but the latest compromise cuts and caps spending while allowing a better chance of balancing the budget without raising taxes.

Congress had no other alternative than to raise the debt limit, Rahall, D-3rd, said.

"The damage has already been inflicted on our nation by those shamefully bent on using the debt ceiling increase for political purposes, dangling a calamitous fiscal default over the heads of all Americans," Rahall said. "From this point forward, we must recognize that the deficit problem cannot be resolved in one fell swoop."

The goal was more cuts than the increase in the debt ceiling, Capito, R-2nd, said.

"I appreciate the leadership in both parties for coming together to reach an agreement that does not give up our principles and puts us on a path toward a brighter, more prosperous future," she said.

By:  Jess Mancini