Md. GOP lawmakers hold out on debt deal
Maryland’s two Republican members of Congress were once again hedging their bets Monday over the latest deal to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, with Rep. Andy Harris saying he’s “leaning against” the proposal and Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett noting that he’s “technically undecided.”
The proposal, which would cut $917 billion in spending over a decade to extend the debt ceiling through the end of the year, could come up for a vote in the House on Monday – a day before the deadline to raise the debt ceiling or risk default. Democrats say a Senate vote will take place after the House acts.
Harris, of Baltimore County, was one of the first conservatives to tie his support for raising the debt ceiling to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Washington to balance the federal budget. On Monday, Harris said he was concerned that “the linkage to the balanced budget amendment isn’t strong enough” in the deal worked out between the White House and congressional leaders over the weekend. “There’s not enough reason for someone to vote for” the amendment, he said.
Harris, who represents the Eastern Shore, nevertheless predicted the measure would pass.
Bartlett, meanwhile, said there are “a lot of good things in this bill,” but said that spreading out the initial budget cuts over 10 years is a problem for him. “That’ll never balance your budget at home, and it’s not going to balance your budget here, either.”
Both Harris and Bartlett were among the final holdouts of the original proposal put forward by Speaker John Boehner last week. Both came on board – and ultimately voted for that bill – when Republicans leaders added the balanced budget amendment to the legislation. That bill was promptly tabled by the Senate.
The most recent version only requires a vote on the budget amendment.
What’s less clear is how some of Maryland’s Democrats feel about the 11th-hour deficit-reduction deal, particularly Rep. Donna F. Edwards, a Prince George’s County lawmaker who has increasingly positioned herself as a progressive leader. A spokesman for Edwards did not return a request for comment.