All three members of Alaska’s Congressional delegation say they will vote for the deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending. The plan announced Sunday night by President Obama slashes spending by about a trillion dollars over the next decade and raises the debt ceiling in time for the U.S. to avoid defaulting on its bills.
Votes are expected Monday, but exactly when it still up in the air. Senate leaders say their votes are locked down, where the plan has support of both the top Democrat and top Republican. But the tally in the House is less certain, and they’re voting first.
Congressman Don Young skipped a conference call among House Republicans Sunday night when Speaker John Boehner laid out the plan. Young hasn’t attended many of the crucial meetings among the Republican caucus in recent weeks but does intend on supporting the deal. Winning conservative Tea Party votes and liberal Democrats is proving harder though. The House needs 216 members to vote “yea.”
In the Senate, Mark Begich wanted to save money by dropping tax breaks for the richest Americans and big corporations, but the plan does not raise any taxes. Despite that Begich is on board.
“The most important thing we can do right now is get us focus on the economy and give us some certainty,” Begich said. “This does create some certainty, because we have several months ahead of us that we can focus on jobs instead of another three months, the debt crisis.”
“So I think it’s a good sign.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski over on the Republican side has some concerns about the plan’s details, but says on balance it’s fair.
“Those of us that are looking at the contours of this deal believe that this is a step in the right direction as we work to aggressively reduce our spending,” Murkowski said. “Nobody I’ve talked to believes this is a perfect deal.”
“It was described by one of my colleagues as saying this was not the best possible deal but it’s the best deal possible.”
The plan creates a bipartisan working group of 12 members of Congress. They would be charged with coming up with another one-and-a-half trillion dollars in savings, taxes, or entitlement reform. They’ll have until Thanksgiving, when they’ll present their plan to the whole Congress. If they fail to move at that time, across-the-board cuts will be enacted, hitting departments including Defense. Both Murkowski and Begich say that will be an incentive for members of Congress to focus over the coming months and find other ways to chip away at the debt.