Debt Deal Clears Senate with Bipartisan Vote

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate managed to pass an emergency bill to raise the nation's debt limit Tuesday, ensuring the government will not default on its loans.
   
Senators showed strong bipartisanship, voting 74-26 in favor of the measure. 

President Obama signed the bill privately in the Oval Office a little more than an hour after the Senate's passage.

Shortly after the vote, Obama applauded the effort, but stressed that lawmakers still need to find a balanced approach to reducing the deficit.

"Both parties share power in Washington. And both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy," Obama said.  "I'll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand."

At least 61 lawmakers, including 40 Democrats, 20 Republicans and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., promised to support the legislation prior to the afternoon vote.

But much of the hard work on spending cuts and entitlement reform has yet to be done.

CBN News takes a look at the winners and losers of the debt debate.

The American people were winners by avoiding having to live with the consequences of a potential debt default.

The deal allows the government to increase its borrowing limit and to stay current on its payments.

If an agreement had not been reached, it could have resulted in higher interest rates on everything from home mortgages to student loans to car payments, while hurting Americans' investment and retirement funds.

Another winner -- Republicans and, specifically, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Many lawmakers, including those who opposed the final deal, credit his leadership for helping the GOP with its drive to put Washington's spending binge on a diet.

"Did we get 100 percent of the discretionary cuts that we were looking for? No. We got two-thirds. That is better than zero," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

Scott Wheeler, executive director of the National Republican Trust PAC, talked more about the debt deal on the CBN News Channel Morning News, Aug. 2. Click below for his comments.

   

And the Tea Party is credited for helping Republicans stay on course with the deficit-cutting agenda.

"House Republicans have fundamentally changed the debate in Washington," noted Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich.

"No longer will the debate be about how much will the federal government. spend. The debate now is how much spending is going to be cut," Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., said.

One surprise winner was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who appeared on Capitol Hill for her first vote since she was shot in January. Giffords voted in favor of the bill.

It was also a big win for President Obama, who avoided having to engage in a nasty fight again during a campaign year.

But he had to make major concessions - like abandoning tax hikes on the wealthy while allowing reforms to Medicare.

Those concessions make some Democrats feel like they came out on the losing end.

"This deficit reduction package is grotesquely unfair and it is also bad economic policy," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said.

But the deal does set up a special joint bipartisan committee made up of three Republicans and three Democrats from each chamber.

The committee must identify up to another $1.5 trillion in savings that Congress must pass or face politically painful automatic cuts.

Democrats believe the committee could bring the issue of tax reform back to the bargaining table.

Republicans say they'll block any tax increases, but the president still wants them.

"The ultimate solution must be balanced. Big corporations and the wealthiest Americans shouldn't be exempt from kicking in," Obama said.

Click play to watch John Jessup's updated report followed by comments from Regent University distinguished professor of government Charles Dunn.

The debate is far from over. The work of the special committee puts virtually everything into question, from taxes, Medicare and Social Security to President Obama's health care law.

Consequently, Americans can expect more partisan bickering toward the end of the year when the Congress must vote on the panel's proposals.

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.