Nothing worthwhile has ever come easy. I have often reflected on these words throughout my life as a wife, mother, and a nurse for over 21 years. Yesterday, as I stood on the House floor, I took a deep breath and cast my vote for a bill that, while imperfect, will protect our economy and begin bringing accountability back to Washington.
This crisis did not begin last week or even a few months ago. The pressure has been growing in the months leading up to this vote while fear and anger has swelled within the base of both parties. Americans are fed up and disgusted with the way Washington has spent their money and caused this crisis. They spoke loud and clear in last year’s historic election, sending 87 new representatives to Washington to stop the bleeding and find solutions to our economic crisis. I am proud to have been one of those 87 freshmen and am reminded every day of just how great my responsibility is.
This bill was nowhere near perfect - as few things in life are - but as I said last week, I will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This agreement will bring certainty back to our free market system and is consistent with the principles we set forth in the House from the beginning. It meets the ‘cuts more than the debt hike’ standard that Speaker Boehner laid out in a speech to Economic Club of New York in May, and it is consistent with what I have emphasized since these negotiations first started: namely the cuts will be greater than the increase to the debt limit and there will be no new taxes under this deal.
On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that this plan will save at least $2.1 trillion and cut the deficit immediately by $917 billion. Not only does this fulfill our initial conditions, it is a historic accomplishment. Since 1962, the debt ceiling has been raised 74 times without any conditions. In this new deal however, the limit will be raised alongside substantial spending cuts including $1 Trillion now and $1.2 Trillion more based on recommendations of a special Congressional committee.
The CBO report further shows that this deal establishes caps on discretionary spending through 2021 and requires that the House and Senate vote on a joint resolution proposing a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. It also establishes a procedure to increase the nation’s current $14.3 trillion debt limit by $400 billion initially, along with procedures “that would allow the limit to be raised further in two additional steps, for a cumulative increase of between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion.” So for the first time in history, we have included substantial cuts to raising the debt ceiling, capped our discretionary spending, and required a vote on a balanced budget amendment. Not bad for a party that controls only one half of one third of the federal government.
It would have been easy to vote against this bill yesterday, as some of my Republican colleagues did, but I refused to take that easy way out. Our founding fathers made sure that in a democracy such as ours, with so many different views and wills of the people represented, dramatic change can only be possible through compromise.
I was elected by the people of the second district of North Carolina to represent their views and make the tough decisions. This agreement, while not perfect, is a fiscally sound foundation to put an end to this spending-driven debt crisis and is only the beginning of a long term battle on government spending to protect our families and their future.
I will continue to fight each and every day for more cuts to our bloated spending and stop the job-killing policies that President Obama continues to force through. The battle continues, the mission remains, and the days of prosperity and economic growth are in our reach if we have the courage to do what is right.
(Editor’s note: Mrs. Ellmers, a registered nurse for over 21 years, is serving her first term as U.S. Congresswoman representing North Carolina’s second district in the House of Representatives.)