Minnesota reps split on debt ceiling; Bachmann, Ellison both vote against

Bachmann, Ellison: Debt makes for strange bedfellows.
Bachmann, Ellison: Debt makes for strange bedfellows.

Finally, Michele Bachmann and Keith Ellison have something in common. Yesterday's U.S. House vote to raise the debt ceiling and make $2 trillion in spending cuts passed the U.S. House 269-161, but Minnesota's most conservative and most liberal member of Congress both voted against it.

Like a circle inside a circle, the final tally left the four moderate Minnesotans in the House -- two Democrats, two Republicans -- meeting in the middle to vote for the plan, and the four partisan Minnesotans -- again, two from each party -- sticking to the sides, and voting against.

Ellison held a press conference with the Progressive Caucus to denounce the bill, which he thinks is too heavy on spending cuts.

"Deficit reduction," Ellison said, "should not be enacted in a hostage situation."

Bachmann, who canceled her campaign events in Iowa just to vote against the bill, went the opposite way on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, saying the bill's cuts weren't enough, and that "all of this overspending does impact job creation."

"We need tough love," Bachmann said. "We didn't see a lot of tough love out of this deal."
Bachmann, when she wasn't listening quietly or being constantly interrupted by Hannity, went on:

"We needed to obviously make sure we didn't go into technical default, and we needed to make sure military men and women got paid," she said. "But from there we have to make serious cuts, and unfortunatelty the can's been kicked down the road and now we have government we obviously can't afford."

Joining Ellison and Bachmann in voting against the deal were Democrat Betty McCollum and Republican Chip Cravaack.

Cravaack's vote was probably most surprising, as he'd voted in favor of a previous bill to raise the debt ceiling, and had been flipping and flopping in interviews last week. But yesterday, he flipped back against the deal, explaining his change of heart in a statement:

"Just recently, I voted for 'cut, cap, and balance' and to raise the debt ceiling; however, I gave my word to advocate the core, fiscally conservative principles my constituents in the 8th District entrusted upon me last November. I will remain an independent voice in Washington - if the numbers don't add up, I'm not voting for it."

Democrats Tim Walz and Collin Peterson voted to pass the bill, joined by Republicans John Kline and Erik Paulsen. For Walz, the key point seemed to be simply avoiding default, as he explained in a statement.

"After a frustrating process that took far too long, I am glad we finally reached an agreement and acted tonight to avoid a default. This compromise is not perfect. Compromises never are. But as someone who believes strongly that we need to reduce our debt, while also keeping the promises we have made to our seniors, to our veterans, to our soldiers, and to our children, I chose to support this legislation. Most importantly, I believe this provides our economy with stability it desperately needs during this time of recovery."

Kline, meanwhile, seemed more optimistic.

"While it is far from perfect, I am pleased this proposal is based on the framework of 'Cut, Cap and Balance' and free from any job-killing tax hikes. As I have maintained throughout negotiations, any solution must cut government spending more than it increases the debt limit; implement controls to restrain future spending; and guarantee the American people the vote they deserve on a Balanced Budget Amendment."

The bill goes to the Senate this morning, where, with the expected support of Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, it is expected to pass before the midnight deadline.


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