Votes cast by U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina show that they do not agree with each other on the two-year budget deal that supporters say spares the United States from a default crisis and opponents say opens the door wider to unchecked spending.
The U.S. Senate voted 64-35 early Friday to approve the budget deal.
Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, voted against it.
Tillis, a Huntersville Republican, voted for it.
With Democratic support, Republican defense hawks overcame opposition from Burr and other Republicans. Several Republican presidential candidates — U.S. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas — opposed the budget agreement. Another, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, backed it.
The agreement would raise the government debt ceiling until March 2017, removing the threat of a national default, The Associated Press reported. At the same time, the AP reported, it would set the budget through the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years and ease spending caps by providing $80 billion more for military and domestic programs, paid for with a hodgepodge of spending cuts and revenue increases touching areas from tax compliance to airwave-spectrum auctions.
The deal would also avert a looming shortfall in the Social Security disability trust fund that threatened to slash benefits and would head off an unprecedented increase in Medicare premiums for outpatient care for about 15 million beneficiaries.
Opponents said the bill will increase the national debt by another $1.3 trillion over the next year and a half.
“Instead of actually offsetting the cost of $80 billion in additional spending, this budget deal relies on accounting gimmicks to make the numbers work,” Burr said.
“It is deeply irresponsible to expect future generations to pay the price for our budget gimmicks and unsustainable spending,” he said. “Additionally, this deal makes changes to crop insurance programs that would be devastating to North Carolina farmers. I can’t support a deal that erodes the real progress we made in 2011 on reducing spending and the deficit.”
Tillis said the “budget agreement is far from perfect.”
But he spoke favorably of provisions that, he said, strengthen the Social Security disability program and provide a financing increase for troops and military “at a time our nation faces unprecedented threats from enemies and adversaries across the globe.”
“We cannot afford to continue to move from crisis to crisis,” Tillis said.
“With the clock ticking closer to a potential government shutdown, and with the president signaling he would essentially allow the nation to default on its debt, this agreement was the only option to keep our fragile economy from falling off a fiscal cliff and plunging us into another painful recession,” he said.
The national debt has risen to nearly $18.5 trillion.
Earlier this week, the U.S. House approved the budget deal in a vote of 266-177.
Echoing Burr’s position, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, voted against it.
“Every time the federal government approaches its debt limit, like clockwork, liberal politicians — from the White House down — begin threatening ‘default’ unless the government is able to continue with its spending binge. Such gamesmanship is a disservice to everyone,” Foxx said.
“Unfortunately, the budget agreement passed by the House ignores our fiscal realities and the magnitude of the problems we face.” she said. “Filled with creative accounting, gimmickry and faux savings, it is not a responsible way to get the federal government’s finances in order and improve America’s long-term fiscal health.”
President Barack Obama said Friday that he will sign the budget deal.
Siding with Tillis’ position, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tried to pounce on Burr, who is up for re-election, saying that he “opts to play reckless, political games.”
“By opposing this bipartisan budget compromise, Sen. Burr has voted for default and shown once again that he has no interest in governing responsibly and would rather send our economy into a tailspin than work across the aisle on solutions,” said Sadie Weiner, a spokeswoman for the campaign committee.