Senate hikes debt ceiling, as Johnny Isakson and David Perdue vote no

WASHINGTON — In the wee hours of Friday morning the U.S. Senate voted to raise the debt ceiling into 2017, while setting higher budget caps for the next two years for military and domestic spending.

Both of Georgia’s Republican U.S. Senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, lined up against the bill, meaning Georgia Republicans across the Capitol were universally opposed. In the Senate, as in the House, Democrats voted in lockstep for the bill, while more Republicans voted “no” than “yes.”

Perdue made his opposition well known with a sharply worded statement on Wednesday that implicitly hit Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for negotiating the accord with departing Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama. The pact avoids a default with just days to spare and solves long-running bipartisan complaints about the “sequester” spending levels, but offsets two years of extra spending with 10 years of promised spending cuts to entitlement programs and other areas. Said Perdue:

“This bad backroom deal puts unsustainable spending on autopilot and lets Washington politicians simply delay tough decisions for two more years. Congress should be working with a sense of urgency to solve our nation’s debt crisis right now. America can’t afford to wait for a more convenient time for elected leaders to do their job.

“Not only does this deal increase the debt from $18 trillion to $20 trillion, but it also violates the responsible budget principles I have been fighting for every day. In typical Washington fashion, the insiders get to spend today in exchange for empty promises of savings tomorrow. Why would we trust a system that has proven to be untrustworthy?

“Earlier this year, Republicans passed a budget that cut President Obama’s proposed spending by $7 trillion over the next decade and finally balanced, but this deal completely abandons that effort. Our long-term plan was traded for short-term gimmicks, trust fund raids, and even more spending. This deal isn’t compromise; it’s surrender.”

Isakson was more torn. He said earlier in the week that it was “better than no deal at all,” but in a phone interview Thursday night a couple hours before the vote he said he was opposed, among other reasons, because the debt increase was indeterminate and because cuts to a crop insurance program could hurt Georgia farmers.

But Isakson was willing to vote yes on a procedural vote to avoid a filibuster and move along the process.

“Well you’ve got to express yourself on the issue in the end. It may be a must-pass issue in terms of getting it done, but it doesn’t mean you do it at any cost. And that’s why I’m not going to support the end product because we could have done better in my judgement, and I would like to have done better, and this is not the way I would have gone about it. But we ought to have an up-or-down vote on it one way or another.”

Isakson said a no on cloture would be “playing games” and only delay the end result, with just days to spare before a default.

But when it came time to vote on cloture at 1 a.m., Isakson was in the no column. A spokeswoman this morning said Isakson did, indeed, not want to slow down the process. But once he saw his vote was not needed — there were 63 yes votes — he voted no to register his disapproval of the bill.

The deal now goes to the White House for Obama’s expected signature.

By:  Daniel Malloy
Source: AJC