Lawmakers explain votes on new deal

It was a nation on the brink – and it may be again when Jan. 15 and Feb. 7 come around and it’s time for another round of discussions in Washington to fund the federal government and raise the debt limit.

Here’s a look at how the area’s U.S. senators and representatives voted Wednesday night on the bill that temporarily re-opened the government and raised the debt ceiling:

The U.S. Senate first passed the measure 81-18, with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, voting against, and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, voting in favor.

The U.S. House passed it 285-144, with U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, voting against, and U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, voting in favor.

In the “no” camp, both Marino and Toomey said they disagreed with tying defunding the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare with the spending bill, but the crux of the matter for them was the spending issue.

“My votes are based on the fact that there is no cut in spending,” Marino said.

While the bill’s “redeeming aspect” is its reopening of the government, that did not outweigh the fiscal issues for Toomey.

“I disagreed with the plan to make funding the government contingent on defunding Obamacare, and I am glad this bill will get the shutdown behind us,” Toomey said. “But I cannot support piling hundreds of billions of dollars of debt on current and future generations of Americans without even a sliver of reform to start putting our fiscal house in order.”

On the “yes” side of the aisle, Thompson and Casey called the recent maneuvering “political brinksmanship,” and short-term as the bill may be, it allows some time to address deeper issues.

“I’ve been calling for the political brinksmanship to end and I’m encouraged there is a measure that could get to the president’s desk; Washington cannot continue to operate in perpetual crisis mode,” Thompson said. “While this bill only provides a temporary extension to get us back to the negotiating table, I believe this measure was in the best interest of the country and puts us on track to address the larger budgetary issues, including the fundamental flaws of the president’s health-care law.”

Casey said job creation and the economy are the real issues at hand.

“I am grateful that the Senate was able to move forward with a bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and avoid default. Pennsylvanians deserve better than the irresponsible brinksmanship they saw over the last few weeks,” Casey said. “I hope this experience will help change the tone in Washington and that members on both sides of the aisle will refocus their efforts on creating jobs and strengthening the economy. I intend to work immediately to push bipartisan legislation to help middle class families, like my Small Business Tax Certainty and Growth Act.”