Debt Ceiling Deal Splits Kentucky's Congressmen

Jan 23, 2013

The US House votes today on a Republican proposal to temporarily extend the nation’s debt ceiling.  In exchange for forcing Senate Democrats to pass a budget blueprint annually, Republicans are willing to extend the nation’s borrowing limit for three months.  And, if there’s no budget House leaders want lawmakers to temporarily forego their pay. Freshman Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie isn’t happy with the bill. 

“I think it’s punting the ball on the first down to gain field position,” said Massie.

By not making spending cuts art of the deal, Massie says his party’s leaders are giving up too much.

“If my principles led me to vote for a clean three month debt extension, what principles would keep me from voting for a six month debt extension? Or a one year clean debt extension? Or three months from now another debt extension?,” asked Massie.

But more senior Kentuckians see it differently. Republican Hal Rogers chairs the House Appropriations Committee. It’s charged with spending the money collected by the federal government, but that spending is largely based on the budget blueprint outlined by the full House. But lately, Rogers says the Senate has failed to pass a budget and spending bills. He says that makes negotiations over spending bills nearly impossible.

“We take them over to the Senate and there’s a big loud snore,” added Rogers.

By setting new limits on the debt ceiling and applying pressure on the Senate to pass a spending plan, Rogers is optimistic Congress can cut the federal budget.

“I think it dramatically, again, shows how negligent the Senate has been over these last three or four years on not doing anything on the budget. Hopefully this will spur them to action,” said Rogers.

Northern Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie.

Even if Senate Democrats accept the House legislation, lawmakers must revisit the debt ceiling debate again in May.