Senators grudgingly vote for compromise federal spending bill

Colorado’s two senators said they had to hold their noses Tuesday while voting for a compromise plan to raise the nation’s debt limit and cut federal spending.

Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet said that while the measure was needed to avert a financial disaster, it wasn’t necessary to wait so long, nor does it require everyone to pay their fair share.

“It does nothing to ensure that the wealthiest among us will help shoulder the burden of balancing our books,” Udall said. “It doesn’t end the wasteful tax breaks for multibillion-dollar corporations that ship our jobs overseas. It also fails to reduce the debt by the $4 trillion economists and market experts have said is essential to provide the shot in the arm of certainty that businesses need to expand and start hiring again.”

The two Democrats were among 74 senators — 45 Democrats, 28 Republicans and one independent — who voted for the measure, which calls for cutting federal spending by $2.1 trillion over the next decade and raising the debt limit over time.

As soon as President Barack Obama signed the measure Tuesday afternoon, the debt limit rose by $400 billion. The plan allows the president to raise it another $500 billion unless Congress overrides him.

The measure allows for raising the debt by as much as $1.5 trillion in a third round, but only if a newly formed joint committee can match it with spending cuts.

“Coloradans have told me they want a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan that materially addresses the problem, ensures we’re all in it together and is bipartisan,” Bennet said. “It’s my hope that the newly minted joint committee can build on the work done by the Gang of Six to create a plan that meets this three-part test and give our economy the certainty it needs.”

Udall said the plan calls on Congress to vote on a proposed balanced-budget amendment that he and a bipartisan group of senators introduced earlier this year. The amendment requires the president to submit a balanced budget each year, prohibits Congress from offering new tax breaks for people earning $250,000 or more, protects the Social Security Fund from being used to balance the budget, and allows Congress to waive the balanced-budget provision during wartime or by a three-fifths vote in each house.

He said the Senate will vote on the amendment by year’s end.


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