In a heavily partisan vote Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act -- a palatable-sounding piece of legislation that, if enacted, would slash federal programs deeply, and restrict dramatically the government's ability to do anything constructive for the country.
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It also would graft those requirements into the Constitution, on the threat of a catastrophic debt default. Now leaders of both parties will have to scramble to make sure that doesn't happen.
The legislation, described in depth here, would make raising the debt limit contingent on both deep immediate spending cuts, and the passage, by supermajorities in Congress, of a Constitutional amendment that would kick federal spending down to historic lows. The so-called Balanced Budget Amendment would force the government to achieve fiscal balance by making deeper and deeper cuts -- because raising taxes would, by Constitutional fiat, require two-thirds of the members of both the House and Senate to agree to do so.
The final vote was 234-190 with nine Republicans voting no, and five Democrats voting yes. The Republicans voting with the Dems were Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Paul Broun (R-GA), Francisco Canseco (R-TX), Scott Desjarles (R-TN), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Connie Mack (R-FL), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). The Dems voting with the GOP were Blue Dogs Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Heath Shuler (R-NC). Two Republicans and seven Democrats did not vote.