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Isle representatives join partisan 'no' vote

By B.J. Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 2:21 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2011

Members of Hawaii's all-Democratic congressional delegation held firm in their opposition to House Republicans' proposal for a quick raise in the federal debt ceiling in exchange for deep spending cuts, as partisanship pushed the government ever closer to an unprecedented default.

President Barack Obama has said a default could put at risk government payments for obligations such as Social Security, Medicare and Pell Grants.

"If we pass the raising of the debt ceiling bill, then they (recipients) don't have to worry," Hawaii Democratic U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono said, striking an optimistic tone. "We need to get on and pass a compromise bill that does not cut Medicare and Social Security. We need to pass a bill right now that represents that kind of compromise. I'm still hoping for that."

Democrats, including members of Hawaii's delegation, called the GOP plan authored by House Speaker John Boehner shortsighted.

"His proposal would only have provided a six-month solution, setting the stage for future rounds of political gridlock while doing little to calm fears of default," U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka said in a statement. "It would have hurt Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, and tied the next necessary increase to an un-passable constitutional amendment, essentially guaranteeing a default."

All House Democrats rejected the Boehner plan.

"We need to pass a responsible, bipartisan plan that helps reduce our deficit, creates jobs and promotes our economic growth," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

Hirono said the Boehner plan cut too deep into social service programs and did not represent a true compromise.

"It didn't represent the kind of compromise that I know the people of Hawaii want," Hirono said shortly after the vote.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had a measure to raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion, enough to meet Obama's terms that it tide the Treasury over until 2013.

Reid's plan demonstrated a "longer-term fix," Akaka said. "Responsible Americans know that raising the debt ceiling is critical to maintaining the nation's creditworthiness and to preventing our sluggish economic recovery from falling back into recession or worse," he said.

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