BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The division between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives that prompted a delay in reopening the federal government is largely still in effect -- including between elected officials representing Greene County.
U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both of Tennessee, voted for the bill to prevent the federal government's default, temporarily fund the government and maintain the Budget Control Act of 2011, which decreased non-emergency discretionary spending.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, however, Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, voted against the bill, and called for further federal spending reductions.
All issued strong statements from their respective offices explaining their positions.
"It is beyond belief that Congress chose to pursue an effort that had no chance of success and wasted time that could have been spent putting in place spending reforms that will make our country stronger," Corker said.
His comment was apparently in reference to the U.S. House of Representatives' holdout to include changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
Earlier this month, Corker called these changes a "shiny object" that was distracting from spending reductions.
"I do consider it a victory that we forced adherence to the Budget Control Act spending restraints, which for the first time since the 1950s, have caused us to reduce total government spending for two consecutive years," Corker said Wednesday.
Alexander, the state's senior senator, also pointed Wednesday to spending reductions.
"I voted in September against shutting down the government, and today I voted to reopen it and to make sure that the United States pays its bills on time," Alexander stated.
"We need to redouble our efforts to fix our country's $16.7 trillion federal debt. We could start by passing the Corker-Alexander plan to reduce out-of-control entitlement spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years," he said in a news release.
Alexander and Corker introduced the Fiscal Sustainability Act to reduce growth in entitlement spending by $1 trillion over 10 years.
U.S. REP. ROE
Roe, who voted against Wednesday's agreement to reopen the government, pointed to the Senate as the failure.
"I am very disappointed the Senate was unable to reach an acceptable agreement," Roe said.
"Our crippling national debt is one of the largest threats to American prosperity, and we missed an opportunity to further reduce the size of government and get out-of-control spending in check.
"I strongly believe that deficit reduction, either through entitlement reform or discretionary spending reductions, must be a part of any measure to raise the debt ceiling."
He praised the Budget Control Act of 2011, but also called for further spending reductions.
"With regard to Obamacare, all we're asking for is fairness," Roe said.
"While the president and his party are still unwilling to concede that his health care plan has real problems, we are going to continue having the conversation about how we can ensure individuals are given the same treatment that the president extended to businesses."