CANTON - U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, on Thursday hailed the passage of the No Budget, No Pay Act by the House of Representatives as a foundation for future, productive federal budget deliberations.
The bill temporarily lifts the debt ceiling, allowing the government to continue paying its debts over and above the $16.4 trillion limit applied by Congress last year. It also requires the Senate and the House to pass a budget in order for members to get paid.
The Senate has not passed a budget resolution since 2009.
I think it is allowing all of the pieces of this puzzle to come together simultaneously, Mr. Owens said.
Although a proponent of long-term solutions, Mr. Owens voted in support of the bill because he believes it gives Congress the time it needs to scrape together a budget deal.
What I believe will happen is the two budgets (one from the House, one from the Senate) will form a basis for a negotiation for more spending cuts, more revenue, the lifting of the debt ceiling and a revamping of the Internal Revenue Code, Mr. Owens said.
In particular, he wants to see corporate tax rates lowered and tax loopholes closed.
The bill was introduced in the Senate on Thursday. Mr. Owens believes the bill shows the Republican-controlled House is serious about working on solutions to the countrys financial woes.
In addition to budget negotiations, across-the-board cuts in spending to federal programs are scheduled to hit in March unless a spending deal is reached by Congress.
Sequestration would mean a 7 percent to 8 percent hit to the budget of Fort Drum and U.S. Border Patrol, among other federal agencies.
Thats going to be the next topic on the table, Mr. Owens said. We have to resolve that sometime before late February or early March.