Political News

NC's Hagan, Ellmers react to debt ceiling deal

Posted August 1, 2011 10:22 a.m. EDT
Updated August 1, 2011 10:37 a.m. EDT

— Members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation spoke out Monday about an eleventh-hour deal by Washington officials to raise the U.S.'s debt ceiling, potentially avoiding devastating economic implications on both a national and global level.

The bipartisan compromise, reached late Sunday by the president and House and Senate leaders, would cut more than $2 trillion from federal spending over a decade and permit the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing cap to rise by up to $2.4 trillion, enough to keep the government afloat through the 2012 elections.

A special committee would also be established to find up to $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts. If not, there would be automatic cuts across much of the federal budget, including defense, Social Security and Medicaid.

Both Democrats and Republicans are responding to the deal with mixed opinions.

"Obviously, it is not my first choice. It probably isn't even my fifth choice, but the thing is, we could not default because that would have been just a crisis," Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C.

"I also didn't want just another short-term Washington-as-usual patch that would have still left our markets in turmoil and that would have harmed our seniors and our military and our veterans," she added.

Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr was unavailable for an interview with WRAL News Monday morning, his office said.

Republican Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers appeared on Fox News, saying the plan seems to be something she supports despite concerns.

"We've got to make sure we're doing the right things," she said. "I've got some questions, but right now, I'm in favor."

One concern is in potential Medicare reductions if the special bipartisan committee can't agree on cuts.

"We really want to do everything we can to empower and strengthen Medicare," Ellmers said. "We want to repair and strengthen Medicare, not cut away."

Congress must now vote on the deal, and it’s still unclear whether there are enough votes to get the bill passed, particularly in the House.

Lawmakers have until Tuesday night to approve the deal. If not, the Obama administration says that the U.S. will default on its loans.

Experts say that could result in a lower bond rating for the nation, shaky markets across the world and effects that trickle down in the form of higher interest rates and potential job losses, among other problems, for everyday people.

North Carolina already has an unemployment rate near 10 percent, with approximately 430,000 people without jobs, Hagan noted.

"I want us to get this default crisis under control so that we can start spending time now on what we can do to create a better business climate so that businesses can grow and hire people," she said.