Representatives reflect on long debate

Michele Bachmann
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., greets Ellie Joy Matthews, 11, of Kansas City, Missouri, as she and her family hold signs supporting a balanced budget amendment just before the House would vote to pass debt legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. Bachmann voted no on the bill.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

In Washington, it appears the debt ceiling debate is almost over.

With the House of Representatives passing a bill late Monday that raises the government's borrowing authority, the long debate in Congress is nearing an end. The Senate will vote around 11 a.m. Central time on Tuesday.

Hours before the final debt ceiling vote, John Kline, R-Dist. 2, took a moment to think about the bill that was soon to pass. Republicans feared that their leaders would sell party members out for revenue increases or smaller spending cuts.

"I would like to have seen bigger cuts, but you don't get everything that you want. What I like, is that this is moving us in the direction, it's changing the way Washington spends your money," Kline said.

"This product is frankly much better than I was afraid it could be."

For liberal Democrats like Keith Ellison of District 5, cuts nearing $2.5 trillion and no revenue increases made this bill the sell-out they had feared.

"This is a difference between a job-killing default or a job-killing austerity program," Ellison said.

As he walked painfully on crutches due to a recent knee injury, Ellison explained why he planned to vote against the debt ceiling increase: "It conflicts with every democratic value that I hold."

Other Democrats, such as Sen. Al Franken, took a different line.

"There's a lot to not like about this process and how we got here and, you know, what we got," Franken said.

He plans to vote for the Senate bill on Tuesday.

Franken said his party had an obligation to make sure the debt ceiling measure passed, even if he would have a preferred a deal that included new revenues.

"This reflects the fact that essentially there was a game of chicken, and in a game of chicken, the player that is most responsible is at a disadvantage," Franken said.

Despite a large majority of House Republicans who voted for the bill, 66 voted against it, including Michele Bachmann, R-Dist. 6 and Chip Cravaack, R-Dist. 8.

Bachmann, having insisted for months that she would not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless the health care law was defunded, had put herself into a position where she couldn't take any credit for the anti-spending fervor she helped spark among Republicans.

She disappeared into the crowd on the House floor and stayed quiet.

Cravaack agonized over his vote.

Last week, he opposed a more conservative version of this bill, one that was sponsored by House Speaker John Boehner and Republican leaders.

He opposed this week's bill as well, because he did not believe either would do enough to cut the deficit.

"Friday was the hardest vote," Cravaack said. "I think they understood that if I didn't vote for the bill on Friday then I probably wasn't going to vote for the bill today."

By defying the GOP, Cravaack may have lost their financial support for his re-election campaign next year.

"I hope it works, I truly do. For the country, I hope it works," Cravaack said. "I hope I'm totally wrong in what I'm thinking, I hope I'm totally off-mark because that means this is going to work.


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