Congressman Don Young was the only Republican and one of only eight House members to miss last night’s vote on the GOP plan to trim the federal deficit. The “Cut, Cap, and Balance” measure passed 234 to 190. It’s doomed in the Senate because of Democratic opposition but House Republican leadership calls it an important demonstration of members’ positions on making deep cuts and amending the Constitution to balance the budget.
Young is up in Alaska despite a call from House and Senate leaders for all members to stay at work until they hammer out a deal over the debt ceiling and spending cuts. He’s attending a fishing trip in Whittier this week for a charity that raises money for Alaska Native families battling cancer. The charity is named for his late wife Lu Young and is run by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
Senator Lisa Murkowski told APRN Tuesday that it’s crucial moment for members of Congress to be present and weighing in on the debt ceiling debate.
“There’s a lot that comes about in this place by critical mass,” Murkowski said. “And even though I might not be attending the White House meetings, there is something each one of us can be doing in terms of giving support, encouragement, asking the questions, pushing and prodding, and we all need to be here.”
Murkowski and Senator Mark Begich wouldn’t weigh in on whether Alaska’s House member should be in the Capital right now, but Begich says he’s sticking around.
“Each person has to make their own decisions of what their own priorities are. I would love to be back there with him,” Begich said. “But as a member of the Budget Committee and someone who sits in leadership trying to craft some of this result, I have a responsibility to be here.”
“Despite the fact that tomorrow’s my anniversary and my son’s birthday is in six days, I’d have a rather priority to be there, but this we’ve got to get done.”
Murkowski says she’d also like to be up in Alaska, especially this coming weekend, but is prepared to stay in Washington.
“I think where we are right now is as critical to any time as I’ve been here. I want to go back home this weekend because it’s the weekend we’re all going to be honoring Ted Stevens. There’s probably nothing I could do that would honor Ted Stevens more than making sure that the needs of our country are attended to. I think Ted would understand why I’m not in Alaska this weekend. If we need to be here we need to be here, so,” Murkowski said.
The clock is counting down to come up with a plan to raise the debt limit by Aug. 2, when the U.S. could default. Both Murkowski and Begich have warned that not increasing the amount the nation can borrow could rock the financial markets and may mean a halt in Social Security checks and military pay.