Local area U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent, a Republican, and Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat, joined just 38 House members Wednesday night in support of a bipartisan budget modeled on the plan developed by a presidential commission chaired by former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican from Wyoming, and chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, Erskine Bowles.
This was the first time the ideas in Simpson-Bowles plan, which was unveiled more than a year ago, was voted on in the Congress. The plan called for reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years with part coming from spending cuts and part from new tax dollars.
The support of only 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats was a disappointment to the plan's sponsors who viewed the approach as the only hope for a budget to pass both chambers. But it did validate the White House, which never pressed for a vote on the Simpson-Bowles plan, sensing there was little appetite for it. Others say the White House missed an opportunity to rally support for it.
Other Pennsylvanians who voted for the plan include Republicans Patrick Meehan, 7th district, and Todd Platts, 19th district and Democrat Chaka Fattah, 2nd district.
The bill was the basic framework supported in a letter signed by 100 lawmakers during the supercommittee talks calling on the 12 members to "go big" and cut $4 trillion, rather then the $1.2 trillion target it was working on. Dent and Schwartz both signed that letter. The supercommittee ultimately failed to agree on any plan.
U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, one of the sponsors of the measure, called those who voted for the bill "brave."
"Americans are screaming for us to take off our red jerseys on this side, to take off the blue jerseys on that side, and put on the red, white and blue jerseys of the United States of America," LaTourette said on the House floor. "Our proposal, inspired by the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission, authorized by the President of the United States has been viciously attacked from the left and the right and so i think ... we're on to something."
The House will vote Thursday afternoon on the Republican budget plan written by Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan. It's expected to pass strictly along party lines. The Democrat-led U.S. Senate will not bring it up.
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