WASHINGTON Members of Congress from the Charlotte area landed on opposite sides Wednesday night as they voted on a plan that ended a government shutdown and raised the nation’s debt limit.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Charlotte Republican, voted yes on the new plan to reopen the government and prevent a default on America’s national debt. He called it a short-term plan that would allow three or four more months of continued negotiations to address spending issues.
But U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Concord Republican, voted no. He said he could not support a bill that did not immediately include concessions on spending.
It was a day of high anxiety in Washington after House negotiations collapsed Tuesday and senators sought to reach a deal that would prevent a government default – and that House members would accept.
The plan passed the House late Wednesday.
Pittenger said House Republicans stood and cheered when Speaker John Boehner walked into a closed-door meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson of Concord said Boehner’s message to the House GOP was: “We stuck together and we fought the right fight, but we lost. Now we have to regroup and fight another day.”
Pittenger said he was likely joining the speaker in voting for the plan late Wednesday night. But he emphasized he would read the bill first.
“We just completed a battle that … had a worthy objective, but an ill-fated strategy,” he said of attempts by some House Republicans to tie the debt ceiling and government shutdown to defunding the Affordable Care Act. “...At least in the next few months with passage of the debt ceiling bill and continuing the government (there) will be negotiations over the budget and the long-term spending that must be corrected.”
Hudson, serving his first term from the 8th Congressional District, said the lack of negotiations with the Senate and the likelihood of a government default weighed heavily on Republican leadership. Hudson would not second-guess Boehner, but said he also could not support the plan without greater concessions from Democrats.
“We’re talking about getting no spending cuts whatsoever, and I can’t support that,” he said.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Cherryville Republican, voted yes.
“It was a tough call to vote for it,” he said late Wednesday, “but the best choice given the limited options, and a severely divided Washington. While it doesn’t end Obamacare, it includes a significant change to …by forcing this administration to verify income for those receiving subsidies under the law.”
Rep. Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land, S.C., voted no. Mulvaney, a Republican, said House GOP members made the mistake early on to allow the debate to focus on the health care law.
“We were fighting for something that was worth fighting for,” Mulvaney said. “We were fighting for equal treatment under the law. We were fighting for a system of government that treats everyone the same regardless of who is friends with the president … (But) we allowed the narrative to be about repealing or defunding Obamacare.”
Renee Schoof of McClatchy Newspapers contributed.
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