House to vote on Cut, Cap and Balance bill; future of the debt ceiling

July 19, 2011

Kate Dries and Lauren Chooljian

(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Republican Representatives discuss the debt ceiling crisis outside the White House Tuesday

Debates over raising the debt ceiling continue in Washington today. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Republican-backed "Cut, Cap and Balance Act" Tuesday evening, which allows for the debt ceiling to be raised to $2.4 trillion, but would require spending cuts and a new balanced budget.

But Republican Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh said that though he is supportive of the bill, he fears it won't be passed once it gets to the Democratically led Senate.

"Instead of being obsessed on this August 2nd date, which the administration is trying to do -- they're lying and they're fear mongering -- we need to make sure we do this right, and if we're going to raise the debt ceiling, we need real structural reform, to make sure that we don't get here again," said Walsh.

"My fear is, too many politicians up here -- mostly Democrats but too many Republicans -- don’t understand what a unique moment in time we have here. We have an absolute debt crisis, and we have an opportunity to pass real historic change that will make sure we don’t get here again," Walsh added.

Walsh's colleague, Illinois Democrat Danny Davis, however, said he would not vote for the Cut, Cap and Balance bill. "I will not support anything that is not a balanced approach to meeting the economic needs of our country based upon the debt ceiling, based upon the budget, and based upon where we find money that it is rational to pursue and get," he said.

Additionally, Davis is worried about the future of programs for those in his state, including Medicaid and Medicare, if the debt ceiling is not raised. "There are individuals who will need Medicare, who will need medical services, and will not be able to get them, and they will go to the graveyard sooner," he said. "They will go and see the undertaker."

As for Republican Mitch McConnell's plan to raise the debt ceiling, Walsh said he is "vehemently against it. It goes against everything we stand for. It basically allows the president to raise the debt ceiling and then Congress is allowed to voice their disapproval of it. What is that? That’s abdicating our responsibility....I understand why McConnell put it forward; he’s frustrated because he’s dealing with the President, who just doesn’t get it. But still, it’s Congress' job to lead."

President Obama has promised to veto the Cut, Cap and Balance Act if it lands on his desk. But he said at a news conference today that there could be a path to a deal on deficit cuts, through a plan put together by the "Gang of Six" senators from both parties, including Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin.