GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - As the debt ceiling debate continues on Capitol Hill, do you know where your Congressman and two Senators stand? 11 News asked them.
REP. SCOTT TIPTON
Representative Scott Tipton, (R) Colorado, says he has not yet thrown his full support behind either of the two debt plans making their way through the Capitol.
"The original vote I cast for 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' was the best proposal that we had," said Tipton. "As the Republican Party we yielded. We said that we will raise the debt ceiling, but there has to be cuts in government spending. We have to reduce the size of government. We have to cap future spending and we want to see what families across the Third Congressional District do every night -- balance their budget. Those are the elements that I'm going to be looking for."
The "Cut, Cap, and Balance" plan passed in the Republican controlled House and was supported by five Democrats -- but was later killed in the Senate.
The current plan being pushed by House Speaker John Boehner calls for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years and the creation of a bipartisan Congressional committee to find an additional $1.8 trillion in cuts by December. The plan would raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion -- extending it for about six months.
A report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday stated the plan would only cut spending by about $850 billion. A vote on the plan scheduled for Wednesday was postponed while revisions were made to increase spending cuts.
"It certainly is not perfect, it's not my first choice," said Tipton. "I cast my vote positively for my first choice, but now we're dealing with the reality of what we're facing. Once this reworking of the plan comes out, we'll take a look at it. If it incorporates those elements, I'd be inclined to look favorably at it."
When asked if he thinks Congress will reach a deal before the August 2 deadline, Tipton said the ball is in the Senate's court.
"It is my sense that we will have some form of cut, cap, and balance, and not raising taxes that we'll be able to pass out of the House of Representatives," said Tipton. "[The Senate] has to be willing to work with us. We're presenting a balanced approach to try and achieve what is in the best interests of the American people, the best interests of our country with responsible spending, and we hope that they'll join us in that effort."
SEN. MARK UDALL
Like Tipton, Senator Mark Udall, (D) Colorado, says neither Boehner's plan nor the one being proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the best answer to the nation's debt problems.
He is backing a proposal by a bi-partisan group of Senators dubbed "The Gang of Six," which calls for $3.7 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years -- and would eliminate or reduce certain tax deductions, generating $1 trillion in new revenues. No formal legislation on the plan has been introduced.
"It's bi-partisan, it matches up spending cuts with simplification of the tax code so that we generate more revenues, and it also includes an element to strengthen Social Security and Medicare," said Udall. "You can't spend your way to prosperity but you also can't cut your way to prosperity at the government level. [The people] want a balanced approach. They want us to work together, and then they want us to turn back to the economy and jobs."
Given the time constraints, however, Udall says the Reid plan is a "fallback that makes sense."
Reid's plan calls for $2.7 trillion in cuts over the next ten years, while increasing the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion -- extending it through 2012. It does include any tax or revenue raising measures many Democrats had asked for.
Like Boehner's plan, a CBO analysis revealed the savings in Reid's plan did not add up to the amount promised. Wednesday, it released a report saying the plan would only reduce the deficit by $2.2 trillion over the next ten years. No vote has been scheduled on the plan, though Udall says he anticipates one some time in the next 48 hours.
"The ratings agencies have made the case that the Reid plan would not result in a downgrade of our credit rating," said Udall. "That's crucial. The other thing that the Reid plan does by extending the debt ceiling through the end of 2012 is provide certainty to the business community and the markets."
He says his biggest issue with the Boehner plan is that it would only extend the debt ceiling for a matter of months.
"Do we want to go through this fight again? I don't think so," said Udall. "I think we need to come to some agreement, compromise, then move on to the economy and jobs."
Though it's unclear if the Reid or Boehner plans have enough votes to succeed, Udall says he remains hopeful Congress will pass something by the August 2 deadline.
"I can't imagine we would let the country default," said Udall. "Having said that, hope isn't a strategy. We need to continue to push our leaders to sit down and come to some agreement."
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET
A spokesperson for Senator Michael Bennet, (D) Colorado, says he too is a "strong supporter" of the "Gang of Six" plan -- but with only six days to go before the deadline, his number one priority is to raise the debt ceiling.
He says Bennet believes the Reid plan offers the "most reasonable path forward."
11 News is scheduled to speak with Bennet Thursday morning. We will post a more in-depth description of his position at that time.
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