Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How LDS Members Of Congress Voted On The Debt Ceiling Compromise Package, Also Known As The Budget Control Act Of 2011

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always urged its members to avoid unnecessary debt whenever possible, and to extract themselves from necessary debt at the earliest opportunity. My first lasting memory of LDS activity after my conversion in 1964 was then-President David O. McKay frequently counseling us to get out of debt and stay out of debt. As recently as July 2011, the Ensign Magazine published an article entitled "Getting Out of Debt — for Good", in which Luke V. Erickson, a personal and family finance educator, advises people to make a firm commitment to avoid debt in the first place, but failing that, eliminate your debts systemically through the practice of "debt snowballing". The timing of this article seems particularly inspired considering the national debate taking place over America's debt ceiling and the national debt of over $14 trillion.

So it's of interest to examine how LDS members of Congress voted on the debt ceiling compromise legislation just passed and signed by President Barack Obama on August 2nd, 2011. The bill, which first passed in the U.S. House 269-161 on August 1st and then in the U.S. Senate by a 74-26 vote on August 2nd, was piggybacked to S.365, a technical amendment to the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002. The actual legislation is called the Budget Control Act of 2011, which can be read HERE. CNN has the main story HERE. It basically trades an increase in the debt ceiling for matching cuts in the budget over a period of time; read this CNN cheat sheet for a more expanded summary.

So how did LDS members of Congress vote? First, from the Senate roll call:

-- Michael Crapo (R-ID): Yes
-- Dean Heller (R-NV): No
-- Harry Reid (D-NV): Yes
-- Tom Udall (D-NM): Yes
-- Mike Lee (R-UT): No
-- Orrin Hatch (R-UT): No

And from the House roll call:

-- Jeff Flake (R-AZ): No
-- Wally Herger (R-CA): Yes
-- Howard McKeon (R-CA): Yes
-- Raul Labrador (R-ID): No
-- Mike Simpson (R-ID): Yes
-- Rob Bishop (R-UT): No
-- Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): No
-- Jim Matheson (D-UT): Yes
-- Eni Faleomavaega (non-voting delegate from American Samoa): Did not vote

The bipartisanship shown by LDS members of Congress mirrored that shown by the respective bodies in general. Those in favor acknowledged that the bipartisan agreement is far from perfect, but said it cuts America's debt by trillions, while safeguarding Social Security, Medicare and VA beneficiaries. Those opposed wanted to tie the bill to a mandate for Congress to adopt a constitutional balanced budget amendment as a hard cap against excessive spending.

The LDS Church took no public position on the bill.

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