The U.S. House passed a bill Friday that would raise the national debt limit and cut spending. It was a close shave, with just two more members voting for it than needed for passage, 218 to 210. No Democrats supported it, and less than two hours later, the Democratic controlled Senate tabled it, effectively killing it as was expected.
Congressman Don Young was lukewarm about it but voted yea, calling it “better than nothing.” House Speaker John Boehner had to retool his plan after punting Thursday night and canceling a vote because he couldn’t muster the support of Tea Party Republicans. Some of them signed on Friday because the new version includes a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.
While many in Washington – including the Alaska delegation – are warning that a default could be catastrophic for the American economy, some Tea Party members say the threat is overblown. Senator Lisa Murkowski has harsh words for that attitude.
“I believe it’s damaging. We cannot play chicken with our financial future.”
The Treasury Department says there are just four days until the nation risks defaulting.
While the House Republican plan is expected to fail in the Senate, Murkowski also predicts the Senate Democrats plan will, in turn, die in the House.
“We will be no further along in a resolve than we were before we took the votes. If I sound a little cynical and a little frustrated it’s because I am. What we need to be doing right now is demonstrating that we have support not only for a cobbled together plan that can gain sufficient votes for passage, but that we actually are willing to work on a solution to the tough problems we have in front of us. But the clock is ticking, and we have a very real deadline in front of us.”
Murkowski says in her nine years in the Senate, she’s never seen anything this important be so stuck.
“Never. Do I want to again, never. And I will tell you, I serve with some good folks, some people who have been around for a long time. We’ve had some real interesting conversations in the past week here, both R and D on this. And nobody that I’ve talked with, and I’ve talked with a lot, have been in a similar situation where there was more at stake and a less clear path forward.”
Murkowski is supporting the Boehner plan even though she has concerns about it, and she does not intend to vote for the Senate Democrats’ plan as it’s currently written. The Senator says she’s working with colleagues in hopes of inserting stronger language about tax and entitlement reform into whatever bill surfaces by the end of the weekend.