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Wisconsin delegation split evenly on debt limit, shutdown vote

Wisconsin’s congressional delegation was evenly divided on the Oct. 16 vote to raise the federal debt limit, reopen the government and avoid default on the nation’s debts.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan were joined by Republican Reid Ribble in voting to fund the government through Jan. 15 and continue to borrow money through Feb. 7.

Republicans Sean Duffy, Paul Ryan, Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Petri voted against the measure. Duffy represents northwestern Wisconsin’s 7th District, which includes St. Croix County.

In the Senate, Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted to reopen the government and Ron Johnson voted against it.

The bill passed by a vote of 285-144 in the House, and 81-18 in the Senate.

Duffy released a statement saying he voted against increasing the debt ceiling because the bill didn’t include necessary spending reforms.

"Raising the debt ceiling does not solve the fundamental problem that our federal government spends more money than it takes in. That is why I conditioned my vote to raise the debt ceiling on the inclusion of reforms to address our spending, specifically our ballooning entitlement spending, including the latest entitlement – Obamacare,” the congressman was quoted as saying. “That's the responsible, common sense thing to do. Since the bill being voted on tonight does none of these things, I cannot support it."

"I came to Washington to change the way things are done in this town. I still believe it is immoral for our government to continue living for today while saddling our children with the debt and inevitable tax increases to pay for it,” Duffy said in the statement.

Democrat Ron Kind, who represented St. Croix County before congressional district boundaries were redrawn after the 2010 census, also issued a statement following the vote. Pierce County is in Kind's western Wisconsin 3rd District.

“This legislation will put furloughed workers back on the job and ensure that America will not become a deadbeat nation,” Kind was quoted as saying. “We just can’t afford to allow any more damage to our economic growth and job creation because of congressional dysfunction."

“Make no mistake: we’ve got a broken government that desperately needs fixing. The federal government can’t keep skipping from crisis to crisis, causing self-inflicted wounds to the U.S. economy. The American people deserve a functional government that’s focused on creating new jobs and building the middle class,” the statement continued.

Kind noted that he and Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, a Republican, headed a bipartisan group lawmakers who worked to resolve the impasse.

“Throughout this process, I have been working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to build bipartisan support to end the shutdown. I’ve had good discussions with a group of pragmatic members to help build support for a solution, and my hope is that we can now move forward on crafting a long-term deficit reduction plan based on some of the ideas that we’ve discussed during these meetings," Kind said in his statement.

Senators Johnson and Baldwin from Wisconsin, and Rep. Ryan, have been appointed to a bipartisan budget conference committee charged with coming up with a new federal budget.

In a news release, Baldwin said she was proud to have been appointed to the committee. She said it “provides us with an opportunity to break this destructive pattern in Washington of drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.”

“I also look forward to working across party lines on the budget conference committee to find common ground on a bipartisan budget agreement,” Baldwin said in the statement.

“Now is the time for both parties to work together to pass a responsible budget that invests in the middle class, strengthens our economy, and takes a balanced approach to reducing the deficit without shortchanging our future.”

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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