North Country Congressman Bill Owens cast his vote Monday night in favor of the bill that raised the nation’s debt ceiling and is intended to avert a potential economic catastrophe.
Owens voted with the majority, which was a coalition made up of about half of the minority Democrats in the House of Representatives, along with a majority of the Republicans.
Many Tea party-backed Republicans voted against the bill, including Syracuse’s Ann Marie Buerkle.
Owens explained in a statement e-mailed after the vote that he was not happy with the bill, which he said was the result of “an unnecessarily ugly process that exposed the worst of Washington.”
However, Owens said he could not allow the country to default on its bills.
His full statement is below:
WASHINGTON – Congressman Bill Owens released the following statement tonight after voting in favor of The Budget Control Act of 2011. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives tonight by a vote of 268-161.
“Over the course of this debate, I have heard from concerned constituents across Upstate New York – from seniors, soldiers and veterans worried about receiving their earned benefits on time to middle class families and small business owners anxious about government spending and the health of our economy. Although this was an unnecessarily ugly process that exposed the worst of Washington, tonight’s compromise will ensure that we avoid a catastrophic default while protecting Medicare and Social Security and making a serious down payment on deficit reduction,” said Owens.
“I know many of my constituents are not happy with this deal, and I share many of their concerns. But compromise is about making tough choices, and defaulting on the debts we owe was not an option. Had this deal not been approved by Congress, the effects of a default would have rippled across the economy and harmed every American. Mortgage and credit card interest rates would have increased, local job creators would have faced higher costs in obtaining a loan, the full faith and credit of the United States would have been damaged, and seniors, the disabled and veterans reliant on federal benefits would have seen a delay in their checks.
“Unfortunately, we came perilously close to default because many in Washington insist on adhering to ideology rather than fact. While there is clearly tremendous risk associated with the growing deficit and debt, there is equal danger according to leading economists in excessively deep cuts that stifle job creation. These same experts, as well as the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission and the Senate Gang of Six, have concluded that to solve this fiscal crisis we must both cut spending and raise revenue. That is why I have consistently supported streamlining the tax code and allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for the wealthy. We had a unique opportunity during these negotiations to reform our tax code, and I am disappointed that because so many of my colleagues refused to abandon politics and ideology this compromise contains no revenue.
“While Congress averted a crisis in the eleventh hour by passing this compromise, we can do better. It is my hope that the select committee created under this plan will produce additional, reasonable cuts that will allow our economy to continue to recover and that we will return to the critical issue of raising revenue in the coming months. With the debt ceiling raised and the possibility of a government default out of the picture, we must turn our focus to job creation.”