With one Republican and one Democrat now representing the Lehigh Valley, this will be a common occurrence: Charlie Dent and Matt Cartwright split their vote Wednesday on temporarily suspending the debt ceiling.
Dent, 15th district, supported it. Cartwright, 17th district, did not.
Hoping to buy themselves more time on the debt debate without the constant threat of default weighing them down, the House Republicans devised a plan to delay enforcement of the nation's debt ceiling for three months, allow the Treasury Department to continue borrowing and then readjust the limit to account for it. In return, Republicans argued, they could use the extra time to press for deep spending cuts and entitlement program changes.
Additionally, the bill requires that both chambers pass a budget or its members' will not be paid. It's an intentional jab at Senate Democrats, who Republicans have blasted for not passing an annual budget. The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week, and the White House has said the president will sign it.
"It is a disservice to the American people and a failure of leadership that the U.S. Senate has not passed a budget in over three years," Dent said in a statement released shortly after the vote. "Importantly, I supported this legislation because it protects the full faith and credit of the United States by extending the debt ceiling for three months."
Dent said recently that the Republicans' bigger fight should be on the so-called sequester, which is the $1.2 billion in automatic spending cuts set to go into effect in early March if Congress doesn't act. In that fight, Republicans believe that they have the upper hand as the Democrats did during the Bush-era tax cuts debate.
House Democrats, who voted against the bill, argued that another short term fix does nothing to provide the economic certainty the nation needs.
“This temporary proposal just kicks the can down the road and does not relieve the uncertainty faced by small businesses, the markets and the middle class – uncertainty that damaged our economy in the summer of 2011," Cartwright said in a press release. "We need a long-term debt ceiling increase that enables us to make rational plans. And a balanced and bipartisan budget agreement that protects Medicare and Social Security, invests in the future, and responsibly reduces the deficit.
Regionally, the votes broke down along party lines. Republican U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, Mike Fitzpatrick and Jim Gerlach supported it and Democrat U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz opposed it.Copyright © 2015, CT Now