Barr, Massie and Paul vote against deal to re-open government, citing lack of long-term spending fix

10/16/2013 09:46 PM

Three Kentucky Republicans were among those Wednesday night who voted against the deal brokered in part by Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to re-open the government and temporarily extend the nation’s debt limit.

While McConnell helped negotiate the last-minute deal and was among the 81 senators to support it, Kentucky’s junior U.S. senator, Rand Paul, was one of the 18 Republicans to vote against it.

Paul said he was disappointed with the lack of a way to address the nation’s long-term spending. However, he made sure to pin the blame on the Democratic majority — not McConnell.

“Tonight, a deal was struck to re-open the government and avoid the debt ceiling deadline. That is a good thing,” Paul said in a statement after the Senate vote Wednesday night. “However, our country faces a problem bigger than any deadline: a $17 trillion debt. I am disappointed that Democrats would not compromise to avoid the looming debt debacle.”

The agreement, which passed 285-144 in the House at 10:18 p.m., extends the nation’s debt limit to Feb. 7 and funds the government through Jan. 15.

The agreement also calls for a bicameral conference committee to come up with long-term spending reforms in a report by Dec. 13, although that piece is not part of the bill. Still, House and Senate leaders are expected to pick negotiators soon.

But that wasn’t enough for a majority of Republicans in the House, where 144 voted against the measure and just 87 for it. All 198 Democrats voted for it.

Among Kentucky’s delegation, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville and Republican U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville, Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green and Hal Rogers, the House Appropriations Committee chairman from Somerset, supported the bill. Guthrie’s district was perhaps hit the hardest as thousands of civilian employees at Fort Knox were furloughed and Mammoth Cave National Park was closed, for instance.

But the two newest members of the delegation voted “no.”

In explaining his vote against the measure, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, said he wanted to see the government re-opened and avoid defaulting on the government’s obligation, but only if the deal came with spending reforms. He had outlined that last week in an interview with Pure Politics.

“It would be unfair to young people and the next generation to raise the debt ceiling without getting government spending under control,” he said in a statement after the vote Wednesday night. “President Obama says we need to pay our bills. I agree. But raising the debt limit without reforming government isn’t paying our bills. It’s asking China and our other creditors to pay our bills for us. Opening up a new credit card without getting government spending under control isn’t avoiding default, it’s just delaying default.”

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, the Republican from Lewis County who represents the 4th District, used a familiar phrase in Washington to describe the deal.

“This deal increases our nation’s debt limit by hundreds of billions of dollars without making a single cut or reform to address our nation’s spending problem. Congress needs to balance the budget, not kick the can down the road,” Massie said in response to an inquiry by Pure Politics.


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