September 1, 2014

Baldwin and Johnson differ on debt ceiling deal

Wisconsin’s two U.S. Senators had differing views on a compromise announced in the Senate Wednesday that would end the federal government shutdown and raise the nation’s debt ceiling through early next year.

Under the deal, the government would be funded and the debt limit would be raised through early next year, avoiding a default on U.S. debt obligations that could have happened as early as Thursday. The agreement also requires the House and Senate to open budget negotiations over a long-term spending plan.

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) offered her support for the compromise, saying it “puts us on a path to having negotiations over a budget and bringing us back to an orderly way of getting the peoples’ business done.” Baldwin says “Now is the time for both parties to work together to pass a responsible budget that invests in the middle class, strengthens our economy and reduces the deficit without shortchanging our future.”

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) was less optimistic about the deal, saying the government is “going to kick the can down the road again. We’re going to increase the debt burden on our children and grandchildren, without enacting any fiscal disciplines.”

Johnson says budget talks will only help if Democrats and President Obama are willing to work with the GOP in good faith. Johnson says the president has “a historic opportunity, as a Democratic president working with Republican Senators and House members who are willing to take the risk with him…the political risk to start solving some of these long term issues.”

Johnson expects the deal will pass, but has no plans to vote for it himself. “I don’t see how I possibly could, and remain consistent to the pledge I made to Wisconsin voters to actually come here and fix the long term debt and deficit issue.”

The U.S. Senate could vote on the compromise as early as tonight, with the House expected to take it up just hours later. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has indicated he will allow a vote, which Baldwin says should allow the deal to pass with strong bipartisan support.