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Wyden to vote for debt limit deal, foe Merkley seeks changes after Bentz, Chavez-DeRemer support it in House


WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Reps. Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., backed the bill passed by the U.S. House Wednesday night to raise the debt ceiling through early 2025. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Thursday he will vote for the measure, but Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said he won't, saying it's "slashing programs working Americans rely on and gutting environmental reviews for fossil fuel projects."

Wyden tweeted Thursday, "I'm going to vote for the debt limit deal. Right now there's nothing more important than protecting Social Security and Medicare from a Republican default. It should outrage every American that Republicans were ready to tank the economy just to help the rich cheat on their taxes."

Merkley, who came out against the bill on Wednesday, posted this message Thursday to Twitter:

"There is underpublicized, outrageous language in the debt ceiling bill that does deep damage to America's bedrock environmental law, including letting corporations write their own environmental impact statements. I'm filing an amendment to focus attention on this travesty."

Chavez-DeRemer had said in a tweet, "As a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, I was proud to endorse the Fiscal Responsibility Act. It's a pragmatic solution to America’s debt crisis that proves government functions best when both sides come to the table, rise above gridlock, and work to find common ground."

After the vote, she issued this news release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 3746, the Fiscal Responsibility Act – bipartisan legislation that lifts the debt ceiling until 2025 and saves taxpayers $2.1 trillion over the next six years, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act is a bipartisan solution to America’s debt crisis that proves government functions best when both sides come to the table, rise above gridlock, and work to find common ground. The nature of divided government is that not everyone gets everything they want, and that is certainly true about this legislation – but it's a pragmatic proposal that serves Oregonians and the American people well. 

“While protecting Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ programs, and national defense priorities, the Fiscal Responsibility Act will prevent inflation from getting worse by limiting future spending growth, rescinding $29 billion in unobligated and unspent COVID funds, and implementing permitting changes that would streamline construction projects and create good-paying union jobs in Oregon. I’m optimistic that this legislation will mark a new chapter in Washington – ushering in a new era of fiscal responsibility that will ensure our children and grandchildren don’t get stuck with our maxed-out $31 trillion credit card.

“I was elected to Congress on the promise that I’d utilize my experience as a mayor to work with anyone to get things done. At the end of the day, I know Oregonians want to see less partisanship coming out of D. C. — not more. They want leaders to find common ground. That's why I'm pleased Speaker McCarthy and President Biden were able to reach this bipartisan agreement, and I was proud to support the bill today to avoid default and enact responsible spending policies,” Chavez-DeRemer said.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

 Rep. Cliff Bentz (OR-02) issued a statement on his vote in favor of the "Fiscal Responsibility Act."

“This bill, H.R. 3746, the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” is the result of Speaker McCarthy forcing President Biden to the bargaining table, where our team was able to negotiate a truly meaningful deal, giving me – and the entire House of Representatives – the opportunity to vote for the largest spending cut in U.S. history.

"We blocked new taxes proposed by President Biden, capped discretionary spending at a 1% increase per year, reformed NEPA for the first time in 40 years, rescinded billions in COVID money, adjusted welfare requirements to incentivize individuals to seek employment, restarted $5 billion a month in student loan payments, protected Veterans, and maintained defense spending.

"Perhaps the best part of this deal is that if Congress fails to properly fund the government via the 12 appropriations bills passed by the Senate, all budgets will be automatically cut by 1% thus forcing everyone to the table.

"Moreover, Speaker McCarthy and his negotiators were able to do this while only looking at 11% of the entire budget (89% of the budget – Social Security, Medicare, the military, and Veterans were off the table).

"This deal represents a monumental achievement by House Republicans, and it is a much-needed step in the right direction in getting our fiscal house back in order," Bentz concluded.

Here's Merkley's full Wednesday statement:

“Since the text of this legislation was released, I have immersed myself in the details and listened carefully to everyone’s points of view. I appreciate the diversity of opinion within the Congress and within my own caucus. Still, I cannot in good conscience vote for this bill.

“This bill breaks with recent, established, and bipartisan practice, cutting programs that are the foundations for thriving families—including health care, housing, and education—to increase military spending.

“In addition, this bill sets two truly horrific precedents:

“It completely exempts the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from following environmental law, even though the company building the pipeline is an egregious violator that has racked up more than 500 violations in two states.

“In addition, the bill dictates the court jurisdiction for the MVP should there be additional legal challenges. This profoundly undermines the integrity of our judiciary. For Congress to—by law—move a court case from one jurisdiction to another, to provide a special favor to a powerful corporation, is fundamentally corrupt. This is a line we should never cross.

“The pipeline itself is an assault against a sustainable planet. We must recognize that fossil gas is just as damaging as coal. Pretending otherwise is leading us to climate catastrophe.

“Finally, this bill contains changes to bedrock environmental law that will allow fossil fuel companies to evade responsibility and accountability. It allows companies to write their own environmental impact evaluations. It changes the standards for acceptable science and data. It exempts entire pipeline projects from federal environmental protections.

“I fully recognize that a debt default would be a disaster for working families and must never be allowed to happen. It’s unconscionable that MAGA Republicans and Speaker McCarthy were willing to entertain driving the economy over the default cliff at all. However, yielding to this blackmail only guarantees that Republicans will use the debt limit to hold America hostage time and time again. We must end the hostage-taking, either by passing legislation like my Protect our CREDIT Act or through the President exercising his executive power, such as the use of the 14th Amendment.

“In sum, there is virtually nothing in this bill that matches what the people of Oregon care about, and a whole lot of stuff that will hurt them. I can’t throw them under the bus. I cannot in good conscience support this legislation, and I will vote no.”

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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