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Republicans Remain Split on Debt Limit


BRADENTON --  Last week, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R- Longboat Key) was one of 87 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote for a deal that ended a 16-day federal shutdown and extended the debt ceiling. In recent weeks, many Republican Congressmen have argued that there was no need to extend the nation's debt ceiling, while even suggesting a default could be a good thing if it resulted in a solution to the nation's growing debt.

Rep. Vern Buchanan

Buchanan defended his vote this week, saying that when it came to the idea of defaulting on U.S. debt, he didn't see a choice.

"I've been in business for 30 years, and I have been on bank boards for 20 years," Buchanan said in an interview with SRQ magazine. "If you don't meet your obligations or pay your bills, it affects your credibility in the world and in our community. I'm just not willing to take that risk."

144 House Republicans voted against the deal, including 10 Florida reps. Many political experts have predicted that the vote could continue to be a major issue into the 2014 midterms.

As most Americans were in favor of extending the debt limit and ending the shutdown, conventional wisdom would suggest that voting against the deal might hurt in terms of the next general election. However, with a standoff having had popular support among the party's far right wing, those who voted for the deal, might be more likely to draw primary challenges from Tea Party-type candidates.

The agreement forged last week only buys Congress time, financing the government through January 15 and raising the debt limit through February 7. Hoping to prevent a repeat, it also included a 29-member bipartisan panel charged with conferencing on budget solutions. The panel will be led by Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and her House counterpart Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

Rep. Buchanan urged congressional leaders to make all budget conference deliberations open to the public. He said the American people need to know the truth about our nation’s debt and the scope of our financial problems.

“This is a pivotal point in our nation’s history,” Buchanan said in a statement. “For too long Republicans and Democrats in Washington have turned a blind eye to our country’s exploding debt. The critical decisions made by the budget conference committee should be conducted under the watchful eye of the American people. They deserve to know the severity of Washington’s spending addiction.”

The panel has until December 13 to reach an agreement on a 10-year budget plan. Negotiations are set to officially commence on October 28.    

“In the past, massive legislative measures have been written in the middle-of-the-night by a handful of members and staff, and then quickly passed into law before the American people have a chance to even see what the final version looks like, let alone determine how they feel about it,” Buchanan said. “This is not acceptable.”

Rep. Buchanan previously sponsored a House resolution (dubbed the Sunshine Resolution) during the 2009 health care debate to make all conference committee meetings open to the press and public. It was co-sponsored by 172 bipartisan members of the House.


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