Hoeven Statement on Passage Of An Agreement to Find Savings and Address the Debt Ceiling

Congress Needs to Continue To Control Spending, Focus on Job Creation and the Economy

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven issued the following statement in response to today’s passage in the U.S. Senate of the agreement to find savings and address the debt ceiling:

“Today, the U.S. Senate approved legislation to reduce the federal government’s spending and address the nation’s debt limit without a tax increase. The President signed the bill this afternoon. The $2.4 trillion spending reduction plan will apply a 10-year cap to discretionary spending immediately, saving an initial $917 billion. The debt ceiling will then be raised by $900 billion, sufficient to fund the federal government through about February 2012.

“Between now and December, additional savings of approximately $1.5 trillion will have to be identified by a bipartisan, bicameral special committee of Congress before the debt ceiling could be raised any further. The committee will make specific recommendations to Congress on further reductions that will get a straight up-or-down vote with no amendments in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. The committee could bring in the ideas of the Gang of Six or the Simpson-Bowles Commission, and address tax and entitlement reform. The President could then request an additional increase in the debt ceiling of $1.5 trillion, subject to a vote of both the houses of Congress.

“As part of the agreement, Congress will also get to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment before the end of the year. I come from the background of a governor. In North Dakota we balance our budget every year. Forty-nine states have either a constitutional or statutory requirement to balance their budget. I think we need that fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C., to make sure that we don’t get ourselves into this situation in the future, for ourselves, our children or our grandchildren.

“The agreement also has a trigger mechanism to prevent partisan deadlock. In the event that Congress is unable to agree on further savings of at least $1.2 trillion, has not sent a Balanced Budget Amendment to Congress, and the nation again reaches its debt limit, immediate and automatic across-the-board reductions will have to be made before the debt ceiling could be increased. The reductions would exempt low-income programs and Social Security.

“There is much more work to do, but I believe the framework passed today is an important first step in beginning to find real savings and control our spending. For the first time, we have structured an approach that reduces spending before we agree to any increase in the debt ceiling.

“It is also an essential step toward addressing the most pressing long-range challenge our nation faces: creating jobs and growing our economy. As we work to address our deficit and debt and restore certainty to the markets, we need to do the kinds of things that will get the nation working again, including sensible legal, tax and regulatory reforms that will stimulate investments and create jobs. Getting Americans back to work and growing our economy will expand our revenue base without raising taxes, reduce our deficit and debt, and protect vital programs like Medicare and Social Security for our seniors.”