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Virginia’s Democratic U.S. House Members Explain Their Votes For or Against the “Fiscal Responsibility Act” (aka, the Debt Ceiling Bill)

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See below for statements by Virginia’s Democratic members of the U.S. House on their votes last night on the debt ceiling bill, which passed 314-117. Representatives from Virginia split 6 “aye” (Don Beyer, Jen Kiggans, Jennifer McClellan, Abigail Spanberger, Jennifer Wexton, Rob Wittman) and 5 “nay” (Ben Cline, Gerry Connolly, Bob Good, Morgan Griffith, Bobby Scott). Now, on to the U.S. Senate, where presumably this will pass easily as well, although hopefully not until they adopt Sen. Tim Kaine’s amendment stripping language by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia ramming through the dirty, destructive, brain-dead Mountain Valley Pipeline project (while also setting a horrible precedent in terms of rule of law, separation of powers, etc.).

Wexton Statement on Voting to Pass Bipartisan Budget Agreement

Washington, DC — Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) issued the following statement after voting to pass the bipartisan budget agreement and avoid a default on our nation’s debt:

“Virginia families and businesses cannot afford the economic catastrophe that a default on our debt would bring.

“I voted in support of this imperfect legislation because, despite what the right-wing majority in the House of Representatives seems to believe, America must pay its bills.

“I am opposed to the measures imposing restrictions on our bipartisan appropriations process and permitting the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which I fought to strip out. However, this is a necessary compromise that will mitigate the horrific cuts sought by House Republicans and allow us to avert a catastrophic blow to our nation’s full faith and credit.”

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Spanberger Votes to Prevent Default on America’s Debt, Protect Virginia’s Economy

Congresswoman: “My Chief Responsibility in This Moment is Protecting America’s Full Faith And Credit, Avoiding a Recession, and Defending Our Commonwealth’s Economy”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement after voting with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act — legislation that would raise the federal debt limit and avoid a default.

“Over the past few months, I’ve heard directly from Virginians who are deeply concerned about the impacts of a potential default. These Virginians are seniors, families, business owners, Veterans, federal employees, and more. Like me, they believe that we should pay our nation’s bills and stop our economy from tanking.

“In response, I have been very clear — my chief responsibility in this moment is protecting America’s full faith and credit, avoiding a recession, and defending our Commonwealth’s economy. While I do not agree with every provision in this package, I can’t argue with the package’s end result: preventing an economic catastrophe for the Virginians I serve. Such is the nature of compromise in an era of divided government.

“As I’ve long said, we can pay our bills while also having separate conversations about the investments we make in America’s people, communities, economy, and national security. I look forward to the U.S. Senate moving quickly to send this legislation to the President’s desk.”

BACKGROUND

Spanberger has long warned about the negative effects of a default and the hyper-partisanship surrounding this process. In February 2023, she joined Prince William County business leaders to sound the alarm on how a potential default would be devastating for Virginia’s economy and workforce.

Additionally, Spanberger has made clear that Members of Congress must be focused on protecting America’s economy and preventing a catastrophic default. Earlier this month, she introduced a bipartisan bill that would block Members of Congress from receiving their pay during any default or government shutdown.

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Beyer Floor Remarks on Legislation to Avert Default

May 31, 2023 (Washington, D.C.) Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Senior House Democrat on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee and member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, delivered remarks tonight during floor debate on H.R. 3746, bipartisan legislation to avert a debt default. Beyer remarks as prepared follow below (remarks delivered here).

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this imperfect bill.

Given the chance, I would vote for a clean debt limit increase, just as I did under the previous president without demanding concessions, and just as I urged my colleagues to do last year.

I believe it is profoundly wrong that Republicans chose to hold our economy hostage, using the American people as leverage to demand concessions.

Their ransom is odious- including deficit-increasing cuts to the IRS to protect wealthy tax cheats while they increase red tape that will prevent some of our most vulnerable from buying food.

It also includes an extraneous provision to approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline which my Virginia constituents strongly oppose.

But failure to pass this bill and raise the debt limit would devastate our country, cause a global recession, and cost millions of American jobs.

We must not allow that to happen.

President Biden and his negotiating team worked skillfully and successfully to prevent the vast majority of the draconian cuts sought by MAGA Republicans while shielding our signature legislative achievements from repeal.

This could have been so much worse.

This is not a bill I would have written, but it will avert catastrophe and it is our clear duty to pass it.

And I continue to urge my colleagues to permanently abolish the debt limit, which will cause a real disaster in this country someday if we do not prevent it.

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Connolly Statement on Passage of Debt Limit Deal

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) released the following statement:

“Today, regrettably, I voted against the debt limit agreement.

“President Biden secured the best possible deal under extremely adverse circumstances. It raises the debt ceiling for two years without many of the draconian cuts Republicans demanded. However, I refuse to enable hostage-taking and in the process establish a dangerous precedent. I cannot sign my name to a deal done under duress, and I will not engage in anything that further enables such reckless behavior from my Republican colleagues.

“Last week, I called on President Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment and unilaterally take default off the table. It’s an opinion shared by respected legal and constitutional scholars, and it’s the path President Biden should have taken.

“On the substance of the deal, as a matter of conviction, I am vehemently opposed to three major provisions: The inclusion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, additional work requirements for SNAP and TANF, and the rescission of billions of dollars in funding already appropriated for the IRS.

“This agreement virtually assures approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline without meaningful public input and without being subject to judicial review. This is a frightening and unacceptable precedent to set, particularly on a project that will directly affect so many Virginia communities. Those Virginians, and the lawmakers who represent them, deserve more of a say in this decision than this deal affords them. To unilaterally approve an oil project by fiat with no due process denies the people we serve any voice in their own communities’ future.

“While President Biden fought valiantly to exclude the cruelest changes to SNAP and TANF sought by Republicans, this deal will still result in lost nutritional assistance for at least 500,000 Americans who currently receive it. These are real human beings who rely on these programs to feed themselves and their families. They are not pawns in Republicans’ cruel political game, and they deserve better than this. I did not run for public office to add to the ranks of the hungry and malnourished.

“In the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats appropriated $80 billion to restore the IRS, improve its customer service, and go after wealthy tax cheats. This deal strips away tens of billions of those dollars, leaving the IRS in a weaker position than it should be to achieve those goals. Ironically, by cutting this funding, Republicans are going after the one agency that has the ability to shrink the deficit and reduce our debt – the very aspirations they claim to hold sacred – by ensuring the federal government is actually collecting the revenue it is owed.

“I want to be clear: I will never vote to default on our debt. If, in some alternate universe, my vote was the difference between passing this deal and catastrophic default, I would have begrudgingly held my nose and voted for it. The full faith and credit of the United States is too important to do otherwise. However, when it became apparent this deal would pass with or without me, the choice was clear. I could not in good faith support it.”

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Scott Votes Against Debt Ceiling Agreement

May 31, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bobby Scott issued the following statement after voting against H.R. 3746, the budget agreement between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy:

“The historical record shows that Republicans have no business lecturing anyone about fiscal responsibility. Every Democratic administration since Kennedy has left for their Republican successors a better deficit situation than the one they inherited, and every Republican administration since Nixon has left for their Democratic successors a worse deficit situation than the one they inherited. All without exception. President Trump was on his way to fulfilling that trend before the pandemic, and President Biden has already overseen historic declines in the deficit.

“The United States has never defaulted on our debt, yet it became very clear over the last few months that Republicans were perfectly willing to provoke a global economic calamity that would trigger a job-killing recession and raise costs on working families, simply because Republicans believe it would help them politically. The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee herself said that economic default ‘bodes very well for the Republican field in 2024.’ Former president Trump encouraged Republicans to defaultCongressman Tim Burchett expressed willingness to default, and Congressman Matt Gaetz believes that Republicans ‘shouldn’t be negotiating with our hostage.’ The hostage in question is the world economy.

“Thankfully, President Biden has produced a compromise to prevent such a catastrophe and reject extreme Republican demands to cut all domestic funding by 22 percent, even as he was negotiating with people who are comfortable with inflicting untold pain on working families. It should also be noted that this compromise will only cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Interestingly, that is roughly the same size of the Trump era tax cut where over 80% of the benefits were scheduled to go to the top 1 percent and corporations, so it begs the question whether Republicans were finally paying for the Trump tax cuts they should have paid for when originally enacted. Alternatively, President Biden’s FY2024 budget proposal, if enacted, would have cut the deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years. If my Republican colleagues were serious about reducing deficits, they could have just passed President Biden’s budget.

“Furthermore, I have significant concerns with this agreement. There are provisions that would allow the Mountain Valley Pipeline to move forward with almost no environmental or judicial oversight, and weaken the National Environmental Policy Act, which keeps our communities environmentally safe and healthy. Permitting reform and the Mountain Valley Pipeline have nothing to do with the debt ceiling and should not have been included. Greenlighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline by sidestepping regulatory agencies and the courts undermines environmental safety. That is why I joined my Virginia Democratic colleagues in offering an amendment in the Rules Committee to strip this provision. Disappointingly, the Rules Committee rejected our amendment.

“I also have concerns about provisions that will make it more challenging for some SNAP recipients to receive their benefits, though I am somewhat relieved that the analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that the expansion of these benefits for other vulnerable groups indicate that more Americans will actually be able to benefit from these programs than those who will lose benefits.

“The full faith and credit of the United States should never be gambled with and nobody should take the economic security of America as some sort of hostage or bargaining chip. While I appreciate President Biden moving us far from the cruel cuts that the extreme MAGA Republicans initially demanded, I cannot support this agreement. This is only the beginning of the appropriations process and we have no idea what vital domestic programs will be on the chopping block. For example, we were subjected to sanctimonious lectures about how Republicans would never cut veterans benefits. However, they just introduced an appropriations bill that would not fully fund veterans’ health care. These cuts were restored in this bill because of the insistence of Congressional Democrats. This spectacle has made it clear that Republicans may well shut down the government, if we don’t give in to their as-of-yet unknown domestic spending cuts later this year.

“I voted against this agreement because we were faced with a false choice: destroy the economy or accept unknown spending cuts and turn the clock back on environmental progress. The fact is that we can avoid economic default without attacks on the environment and then begin to focus on reasonably addressing the budget.”

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McClellan Helps End Republican-Manufactured Debt Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan (VA-04) issued the following statement after she voted in support of H.R. 3746, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023:

“For weeks, I have called on my House Republican colleagues to prioritize the needs of the American people over their own party’s interests and cleanly raise the debt ceiling. While extreme MAGA Republicans held the American economy hostage and threatened cruel cuts or a devastating default, President Biden and congressional Democrats fought to put people over politics and protect the full faith and credit of the United States.

“Unfortunately, too many Republicans were willing to default without some compromise on spending, despite how catastrophic a default would be for hard working Americans, our economic recovery, and our national security.

“The Bipartisan Budget Agreement represents a compromise that protects Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, veterans benefits, and transformative investments in the clean energy and transportation economy contained in the Inflation Reduction Act. The compromise avoids even worse cuts and policy changes demanded by MAGA Republicans as outlined in their Default on America Act and Polluters over People Act passed earlier this year.

“There are provisions in the bill that I do not support; however, this bill is far better for my constituents, the American people, and our economy than the default we would certainly face if it fails.

“I voted yes on this legislation to protect the best interest of my constituents and ensure America’s continued economic stability. This legislation averts a catastrophic default that would have triggered a recession, cost millions of jobs, devastated retirement accounts and state budgets, and disrupted federal programs and benefits on which countless Americans rely.”

The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023:

  • Locks in two-year debt limit suspension and budget deal consistent with recent bipartisan budget agreements and rejects the 10-year caps House Republicans proposed.
  • Rejects Republicans’ extreme discretionary cuts and locks in funding levels at current FY2023 levels, which contained significant increases in investments for education, childcare, and cancer research, and rejects the cruel cuts House Republicans proposed to schools, childcare programs, food assistance, first responders, and environmental protections.
  • Protects Democrats’ economic growth agenda, including key legislative provisions included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the PACT Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) clean energy, corporate minimum tax, and prescription drug provisions, and rejects House Republicans’ attempt to strip clean-energy investments passed through the IRA.
  • Rejects work requirements for Medicaid and adds new exemptions for SNAP to protect vulnerable Americans’ access to these crucial programs – including expanded eligibility for veterans, homeless individuals, and children who have aged out of the foster care system – and rejects House Republicans’ attempt to add burdensome work requirements to Medicaid.
  • Protects Americans’ health care and retirements, safeguarding Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, and rejects House Republicans’ proposal that would have caused roughly 600,000 Americans to lose their health coverage.
  • Protects one-time student debt cancellation of up to $20,000 for eligible borrowers – 90% of whom make under $75,000 – and rejects Republicans’ attempt to block this relief.

Congresswoman McClellan fought back against the permitting provision for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and led the entire Virginia House Democratic delegation in submitting an amendment to the Rules Committee to strip the provision from the bill. She supports similar efforts in the Senate led by Senator Tim Kaine.

 

Read the full text of the bill here and a section-by-section summary here.

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