Congress Passes Legislation to Raise Debt Ceiling; Measure Headed to President Obama

The debt ceiling negotiations that have consumed Congress for the last several weeks finally came to an end today, just in the nick of time. After days of political grandstanding, no compromise, token votes and unprecedented outcries from constituents, the House and Senate finally got down to business and passed a bill that will raise the nation’s debt ceiling in return for spending cuts.

The measure was approved by the House of Representatives on Monday by a 269-161 vote while the Senate garnered 74 “yes” votes Tuesday to ensure passage. The majority of the Northwest delegation supported the legislation. Opposing Democrats cited reasons mostly related to the spending cuts, which would affect programs that support working families, higher education and transportation. A lack of taxes increases also fueled their opposition votes.

How the Northwest Delegation voted:



Yes: No:   Yes: No:
Senator Ron Wyden Senator Jeff Merkley    Senator Patty Murray Rep. Jim McDermott
Rep. David Wu  Rep. Earl Blumenauer   Senator Maria Cantwell  Rep. Adam Smith
Rep. Greg Walden  Rep. Peter DeFazio   Rep. Jay Inslee  
Rep. Kurt Schrader      Rep. Rick Larsen  
      Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler  
      Rep. Doc Hastings  
      Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers  
      Rep. Norm Dicks  
      Rep. Dave Reichert  


As reported by CNN, the agreement calls for up to $2.4 trillion in savings over the next decade, raises the debt ceiling through the end of 2012 and establishes a special congressional committee to recommend long-term fiscal reforms. The plan includes two stages.

The first stage includes $917 billion in savings, including a roughly $420 billion reduction in the national security budget. The cuts would be accompanied by a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling. Because of the pending Tuesday deadline, Obama would have immediate authority to raise the debt ceiling by $400 billion, which will last through September, according to the White House.

The other $500 billion increase in the debt limit would be subject to a congressional vote of disapproval that can be vetoed by Obama.

In the second stage, a special joint committee of Congress would recommend further deficit reduction steps totaling $1.5 trillion or more, with Congress obligated to vote on the panel’s proposals by the end of the year. The committee would comprise 12 members: Six from each chamber, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. The panel’s recommendations would be due by November 23 and guaranteed an up-or-down vote without amendments by December 23.

The committee is expected to consider politically sensitive reforms to the tax code and entitlement programs, though Democrats and Republicans disagree on the likelihood of any eventual revenue increases.

The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) will keep a vigilant eye on the joint committee as it looks at tax reform and provide consistent reminders to our delegation of the importance of the credit union tax exemption and our positive impact on our members and communities. While Speaker Boehner has stated several times that House Republicans have no appetite to increase tax revenue, we cannot be complacent on this issue.

Finally, we are now awaiting the resignation announcement from Representative David Wu, who said he would not resign until after the debt-ceiling issue is resolved. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law later today, which should trigger Wu’s announcement.  Once that happens, Governor John Kitzhaber will then set an election date and candidates will have 10 days to file for the office.

Posted in Advocacy News, Economy, NCUA.