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The Oklahoman - House Clears Debt Deal; Senate Passage Expected Tuesday

A deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut federal deficits won bipartisan House approval on Monday, even though some of the supporters held their noses as they voted for the legislation. The Senate is expected to approve it Tuesday.

The vote for the deal was 269 to 161, with 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats supporting it; all five Oklahoma members of the House backed the measure.

Liberals continued to express outrage that the spending cuts in the deal would fall heavily on the poor, while some conservatives complained that there wasn't enough deficit reduction.

House action came a day before the deadline to increase the nation's borrowing authority so the federal government can meet its financial obligations.

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders negotiated the deal during the weekend, melding various proposals into a compromise that seemed to satisfy no one in the end.

The debt ceiling will be raised in increments by at least $2.1 trillion, while future spending will be reduced at least by that same amount, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

"It doesn't serve either party particularly well," Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said of the deal.

Liberal Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., called the deal a "sugarcoated Satan sandwich," while Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, called it "immoral" because it would force cuts to programs that help the poor and elderly.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was among the conservatives saying the spending cuts were too modest.

"Instead of our nation running toward bankruptcy, we will be walking toward bankruptcy," he said.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said Monday that he would vote against it because it lacked budget reforms, delayed most of the cuts and threatened national defense spending.

"A single step'

In the House, the bill drew little praise.

"I'm not happy with it, but I'm proud of some of the accomplishments contained in it," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, summed up the feelings of many Republicans who wanted more cuts but supported the bill. He called it "a single step on a very long journey."

In a speech on the House floor, Lankford said, "Does it cure cancer? No. Does it get us out of all the wars? No. Does it locate Amelia Earhart's body? No. Does it find the Ark of the Covenant? No. It doesn't solve everything we'd like to do with it."

Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, said the legislation would begin "the necessary work of reducing annual budget deficits and correcting the fiscal course of the country."


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