With another debt ceiling deadline looming, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall was the only Gwinnett congressman to vote in favor of the House legislation to suspend the limit.
Even fellow Republican Paul Broun, whose district includes eastern Gwinnett, voted no on the "No Budget, No Pay" legislation, which allows borrowing until May 18 while withholding senators' pay if the body does not pass a budget.
"If Congress votes to remove the cap on how much the Treasury can borrow, it'd be akin to playing with fire," said Rep. Broun of Athens. "We've seen time and time again that once the federal government opens the door to increased spending, it doesn't have a great track record of going back later to close it. In the next few months, Congress has to deal with the implementation of costly new Obamacare policies and the $1.2 trillion sequestration deadline, not to mention the end of the six-month spending bill which is currently keeping the federal government open. Without a debt ceiling to serve as a reality-check, I worry that the Treasury will run up our tab so high that a limit will never be put back into place. And if by chance Congress does attempt to pass a new limit in May, the sheer magnitude of the increase quite possibly in the trillions will be a deal-breaker for many Republicans and Democrats alike."
But Woodall said creating a budget is key.
"Every family in America knows that when times are tough, the only way to pay all of your bills is to sit around the table and make a budget, prioritizing those expenses that are the most important and reducing those expenses that are less so," the Lawrenceville man said. "For the federal government to pay its bills, it too needs a budget, and since 1974, federal law has required the House and Senate to pass a budget each year. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I am proud that the House has met its obligation throughout my first term in Congress, yet the Senate has ignored that law for almost four years. As America faces its largest budget crisis in modern times, it is operating without any budget plan whatsoever. That doesn't just violate common sense; it violates federal law and must stop."
Broun agreed with the need for a budget.
"I support the idea of putting member paychecks on the line in exchange for a budget, because if we're not doing our jobs, we shouldn't be getting paid. However, that's the only good thing that I can see in this bill," he said. "The Treasury is one of the least transparent entities in our federal government as is, and I will not vote in favor of giving it a free pass to borrow and spend unlimited sums for even a single day let alone for the next four months."
But U.S Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat called the paychecks move a "gimmick."
"A four-month extension is not good enough. Republicans are just creating another crisis down the road. That's not leadership," he said. "All this extension does is simply inject new uncertainty into the economy. Despite plenty of rhetoric from House Republicans on providing the American people certainty -- the GOP voted today to do just the opposite. House Republicans are offering a short-term gimmick that will only lead to another one of their trademark manufactured crises."
Johnson said he agreed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's statement that that lawmakers should "stop governing by crisis."
"We must stop the brinksmanship now. We must rid our country from the threat of default in a bipartisan way that provides much-needed certainty to our economy, protects Medicare, and strengthens the middle class," said Johnson, whose district includes southern Gwinnett.
Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Camie Young can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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