Illinois lawmakers react to debt deal
August 1, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- The U.S. Senate is expected to sign off on a deal to raise the debt limit and avoid a financial crisis on Tuesday.
The House passed the bill Monday evening and the moment was thrilling for supporters and critics as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returned to the Capitol for the first time since she was shot.
Giffords was one of the 269 representatives to vote yes; 161 voted no.
As the vote came down the applause went up, but Congress wasn't clapping for the end of a stalemate. They were applauding the return of Giffords. All eyes were on the Arizona Democrat who came to vote for the debt bill. It was needed moment whereboth parties came together after many weeks of division.
With Giffords' help, the bill passed. But at the end it was liberal Democrats - not tea party Republicans - that were a threat to the outcome.
The no's came from both sides of the aisle. Two Illinois Democrats and three Republicans voted the deal down.
"Congress issued all of us a bad check. It has come back with insufficient funds," said Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
Jackson Jr. voted against the bill saying the cuts will do nothing to get Americans back to work.
Evanston Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky says she couldn't vote for a bill that opens the door to entitlement cuts and does not include tax increases for the wealthy.
"I really couldn't in the consciousness do this, which raises $1 trillion in spending cuts of the middle class, the poor, seniors, while millionaires and billionaires are still not asked to pay a single penny," she said.
Besides no tax increases, the deal calls for over $2.4 trillion worth of spending cuts over the next 10 years, something that concerns Chicago Democrat Danny Davis, even though he voted for the deal.
"When all you do is cut, cut, cut, you get blood, blood, blood," said Davis.
For some Republicans, the cuts don't go far enough. For freshman Illinois Congressman Randy Hultgren he is disappointed the deal wasn't tied to a balanced budget amendment.
"I just didn't feel that the accountability was there...so I voted no," said Hultgren.
The bill is expected to have an easier time in the Senate. Both Illinois senators plan to vote yes.
"The far right and the far left don't like this deal which is why I like it," said Sen. Mark Kirk (R).
With an 11 a.m. Senate vote Tuesday, President Obama is expected to immediately sign the bill. However, the work is far from over. The second half of the deal calls for a bipartisan congressional committee to recommend additional deficit reduction by Thanksgiving. President Obama says he's hoping everything is on the table including tax increases and cuts to entitlement programs.
politics, sarah schulte
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