Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Both GOP congressmen reaffirm commitment to lowering the nation’s debt.
Republican Reps. Lou Barletta and Tom Marino say voting for the House GOP’s “cut, cap and balance” plan to lower the nation’s debt is what they came to Congress to do.
The freshmen lawmakers dismiss the suggestion that they cast merely symbolic votes for the bill making large cuts to federal programs, capping future spending at a percentage of the gross domestic product and raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit in exchange for a balanced budget amendment that would make it difficult to pass any tax increases.
The House approved the bill Tuesday night 234-190, largely along party lines, but the measure appears dead in the Senate, which is working on several bipartisan compromise debt ceiling plans.
“Nothing is symbolic for me. I know why I am here,” said Marino, R-Lycoming Township, in an interview outside the House chamber.
“The voters sent me here to cut down the size of government, stop the spending, keep taxes low and to create jobs, and that is why I am voting the way I am voting on this.”
Asked about whether he eventually would vote for a compromise plan hatched in the Senate, Marino said that, “As far as what is going to happen in the future, I am not ready to make any concessions or decisions on how I am going to vote” on a Senate proposal.
“If we continue to work hard at balancing this budget, cutting the costs, and working on this deficit, we will get it accomplished.”
Barletta, R-Hazleton, struck a similar note in an interview outside the House chamber Tuesday.
“The cut cap and balance is what I came to Congress for,” Barletta said.
“Eighty percent of the American people want us to balance the budget. When we talk about taking care of our children and grandchildren, this is what will do it,” he said.
Barletta said he is against a plan being worked on by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., which would allow the president to raise the debt ceiling in increments in exchange for spending cuts, though at $1.5 trillion considerably lower than the trillions of dollars that would be cut under the House GOP proposal.
“I don’t like the McConnell-Reid plan,” Barletta said. “I equate it to when we were small and we played hot potato. We’re just passing it to someone else. We came here to fix America’s problems and passing a balanced budget is how we make sure we never do this again.”