For LI House Dems, tough vote on debt billBy TOM BRUNE
August 2, 2011
WASHINGTON -- House Democrats from Long Island called it a tough vote, but yesterday evening three of those four representatives said yes to what they called a necessary debt-limit bill though it was largely shaped by Republicans.
The lone holdout was Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights), while the other three joined Republican Rep. Peter King of Seaford in voting yea.
"It's bad policy and bad politics," Ackerman said. He said he lobbied New York City representatives to vote no, and most did.
Across the country, Democrats said they struggled with the bill, blaming the House GOP's tea-party inspired bloc for forcing them to make a painful choice of agreeing to deep cuts in spending without increasing revenue or taxes rather than letting the government default.
In the end, the House approved the measure, 269-161 -- with Democrats splitting evenly for and against it, 95-95, and the GOP voting 174-66 in favor.
In a dramatic moment, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) returned to the House, the first time since a gunman shot her in January, to vote yes. Amid a crowd, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) hugged her as she entered.
The measure that passed cuts the federal budget by $2.1 trillion over a decade and raises the debt limit by $2.4 trillion.
The bill goes to the Senate for a vote Tuesday. It is expected to pass and avert a default.
"Default is not an option," Israel, a member of the House Democratic leadership, said to explain his vote despite frustration with the bill.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) said she also struggled with her vote. "Like most Americans, I'm absolutely disgusted that raising the debt ceiling became such a long and partisan process at the hands of some members of Congress."
Up until the vote, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said he was undecided. He said he voted yes because the bill averted a default and protected Medicare and Social Security.
King said, "It's the best bill we could get." He said once the Senate acts and the president signs the bill, the hard work begins.
"These cuts," King said, "are not going to be easy."