Cardin, Mikulski, vote yes on debt ceiling deal
With John Fritze reporting from Washington:
Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, both Maryland Democrats, joined a majority of their Senate colleagues Tuesday in voting to approve the bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling.
The legislation now goes to the White House, where President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.
The 74-26 vote came less than 12 hours before the government ran out of money and faced a default on its financial obligations, according to officials.
Cardin, who is running for reelection next year, said he was "conflicted" over the deal.
"There's a lot of things in it I don't like," Cardin said. "The main reason I voted for it is we cannot allow the debt ceiling to be breached and there were no other alternatives."
Mikulski called the vote difficult.
"I found it wrenching because of the continual draconian cuts to entitlements," she said. "I was pleased that I helped stop the stampede to raid entitlements."
The deal brokered over the weekend by Obama and Senate Republicans would cut federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion over the next decade and allow the government to continue to borrow money through the end of next year.
The legislation would slash about $900 billion in spending over 10 years and create a bipartisan panel of lawmakers to seek out additional cuts by December. If that panel fails to reach a deal, or Congress declines to approve its recommendations, the bill calls for automatic, across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion - including to defense spending and Medicare.
The House voted 269-161 to pass the measure Monday.
Cardin had said before the House vote that he was undecided on the legislation. He said he was investigating details of the cuts that would be triggered if the bipartisan committee deadlocked or Congress failed to approve its recommendations.
Much of the concern from Maryland officials has appeared to center on the automatic cuts triggered by congressional inaction, which would likely have a disproportionate effect on the state.
Maryland is home to more than 286,800 federal workers and local companies were responsible for about $60 billion in federal contracts in 2010. Many of the automatic cuts envisioned by the bill could fall to defense contractors.