POSTED: 11:35 a.m. HST, Aug 2, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 11:41 a.m. HST, Aug 2, 2011
Both Hawaii Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka voted yes on the bill to increase the nation’s debt limit, saying the compromise legislation was necessary to avoid risking the country’s economy and prevent disruption to its social programs.
The measure provides an immediate $400 billion increase in the $14.3 trillion U.S. borrowing cap, with $500 billion more assured this fall. That $900 billion would be matched by cuts to agency budgets over the next 10 years.
Inouye said the vote is not one that he takes any pride in, but “it is something we had to do for the good of the country.”
"We must prevent disruptions to Social Security, Medicare, and other critically important safety net programs people in Hawaii and across the nation depend upon,” Akaka said. “We now need to work to ensure the agreement does not harm programs Hawaii depends on.”
Inouye said that as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he will work to “ensure these cuts do not adversely impact the neediest among us.”
“These cuts, $2.1 trillion over the next decade, are deep and significant and government services will suffer because of them,” Inouye said. “This proposal contains no new revenue. But what can we expect? We were negotiating with a group of people who would see the country default before they backed off their campaign promises.”
Inouye said it “is of the utmost importance” that a bipartisan congressional committee “not deadlock and fail to produce additional savings.”
The bill sets up a special bipartisan committee to draft legislation to find up to $1.5 trillion more in deficit cuts for a vote later this year. They're likely to come from such programs as federal retirement benefits, farm subsidies, Medicare and Medicaid. The savings would be matched by a further increase in the borrowing cap. If the committee fails to agree on legislation, the bill calls for automatic cuts across much of the budget, including Pentagon coffers.
“It is of the utmost importance that this committee not deadlock and fail to produce the additional savings,” Inouye said. “The triggers contained in this deal are real and would lead to extremely painful cuts to the Department of Defense, Medicare and domestic spending, if implemented. The committee should, and it must, produce a bipartisan comprise that can pass both chambers and Congress and be sent to the President.”
"Compromise by definition means that not everything we want is in there,” Akaka said. “I hope we can get back to the urgent business of getting Americans back to work and strengthening our economic recovery."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.