Representatives oppose debt ceiling extension

WASHINGTON – Raising the federal debt limit without spending reductions was the prime reason local Republican lawmakers voted against it.

A bill passed the House on Tuesday 221 to 201 in a vote on partisan lines with most Republicans against, including Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley of West Virginia and Bill Johnson of Ohio. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Wa., voted in favor.

Controlling spending was the common theme among the Republicans.

“We need to get serious about reigning in on Washington’s out-of-control spending,” Johnson said. “We cannot continue to pile debt onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.”

The bill allows a year-long suspension of the debt limit and extends the country’s borrowing authority to March 2015. Congress has raised the debt ceiling 42 times since 1980.

The legislation was Senate Bill 540, which originally was to rename the air traffic control center in Nashua, N.H., as the Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center. To expedite passage, Congress will take an existing bill already in the process and amend it rather than start from scratch.

Johnson said he couldn’t support extending the debt ceiling without addressing “the main driver of our debt, Washington’s out-of-control government spending.”

McKinley said he won’t give President Obama a blank check.

“On principle, I agree we should never default on our debt and we must pay our bills. But there’s a big difference between principles and tactics,” he said. “The tactic of giving a blank check to the president and the Democrat-controlled Senate to continue spending is not responsible. With a $17.3 trillion dollar debt that is growing every day, we can’t ignore this problem and pass this debt on to our children and grandchildren.”

McKinley blamed the president and the Democrats for running up the debt.

“Paying our bills is responsible, but so is finding ways to reduce this massive debt,” McKinley said.

The nation can’t afford to borrow more money, Capito said.

“Taxpayers expect that if the nation borrows money, it will cut spending elsewhere,” she said. “This legislation allows this administration to continue business as usual, and I cannot support raising the debt ceiling without putting our fiscal house in order.”