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House passes cut, cap, balance bill

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
WASHINGTON (BP)--The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a bill July 19 not only to reduce federal spending but to require a constitutional amendment to balance the budget before raising the debt ceiling.

The legislation appears highly unlikely to proceed any further, however.

The House voted 234-190 in a nearly party-line roll call for the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, H.R. 2560. Five Democrats joined 229 Republicans in the majority, while nine GOP members and 181 Democrats voted against the legislation.

The action came as the Aug. 2 deadline for increasing the debt ceiling nears. The ceiling, which stands at $14.3 trillion, is the legal limit on the amount of debt the federal government can borrow.

President Obama, who has asked Congress to raise the ceiling by $2.4 trillion, is opposed to the House-approved measure, and it appears to have little appeal to the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., has proposed a contingency plan that would seem to grant Obama authority to increase the debt limit without spending cuts, and a bipartisan group of senators known as the "Gang of Six" offered a plan July 19 designed to cut nearly $3.7 trillion from the deficit. Neither approach may gain support from the House's Republican majority, however.

The Cut, Cap and Balance Act would:

-- Cut federal spending for the 2012 fiscal year by $111 billion.

-- Cap spending on a declining scale from 22.5 percent of the gross domestic product next year to 19.9 percent in 2021.

-- Require congressional approval of a balanced budget amendment before the debt ceiling increases.


Social conservatives who previously had endorsed the cut, cap and balance proposal continued to commend it after the House action.

"Cut, Cap and Balance is the best, and most logical, long-term solution to the fact that we've been living beyond our means now for a significant amount of time," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "If we don't act quickly, we're going to permanently foreclose the financial futures of our children and grandchildren.

"We must rein in government spending and find a way to live within our means and not put such an insurmountable burden on our children," Land said. "Cut, Cap and Balance gives us the framework to do that."

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a written statement that the House vote is "the first step toward putting America back on a financially stable path. We have a long way to go, but the Members of Congress who voted to pass the bill know that our rising debt can no longer be ignored, and putting further debt on future generations is both immoral and unsustainable."

The Republicans who voted against the bill included some well-known conservatives. GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said she opposed the measure because it "does not go far enough in fundamentally restructuring the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars." Congress also must repeal last year's health-care reform law, she said.


Other Republicans voting against the bill were Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia, Francisco Canseco of Texas, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Morgan Griffith of Virginia, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Connie Mack of Florida, Ron Paul of Texas and Dana Rohrabacher of California.

The five Democrats supporting the bill were Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler, both of North Carolina.

The ERLC is one of more than 220 organizations sponsoring the "Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge," which aligns with the House-passed bill. The ERLC distributed an email alert July 19 urging its constituents to ask their representatives to vote for the legislation.

Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. See how your representative voted at

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press


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