The debt ceiling bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday night by a vote of 269-161 had support from only two of Connecticut’s five representatives.
JIM HIMES: One of two Connecticut representatives who voted "yes" on the House's debt ceiling bill
CHRIS MURPHY: One of three Connecticut representatives who voted no.
Reps. Jim Himes (D-4) and Joe Courtney (D-2) — both of whom are running for re-election in 2012 in what could be competitive districts — voted for the bill, while Reps. Chris Murphy (D-5), Rosa DeLauro (D-3), John Larson (D-1) voted against it.
Murphy is not running for re-election and will instead seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman. Larson and DeLauro are both veteran lawmakers who have rarely faced serious challenges for re-election.
Himes, though, is a sophomore representing a swing district long dominated by Republicans. Courtney ousted Republican Rep. Rob Simmons in the Democratic landslide of 2006.
The votes mirrored a national trend in that representatives from more moderate districts voted for the bill — lauded by leaders of both parties as a bipartisan compromise — while many progressive Democrats and some Tea Party Republicans voted against it.
In a statement explaining why he voted no, Larson said he would not have allowed the nation to default — hinting he may have considered voting yes if his vote was needed for passage — but that he couldn’t bring himself to vote for a bill he said had essentially been hijacked by the Tea Party.
“While I voted twice recently to raise the debt ceiling and would not have allowed the nation to default, I cannot explain in good conscience to seniors, to students, and to working families why it is that the bond sellers always get paid while they – the heart of our nation – continue to be squeezed,” Larson said in a statement.
Murphy sounded a similar note in a statement and also sent an email message to supporters explaining his decision and asking for feedback.
“First, there is no question that the debt limit needs to be increased,” he wrote in the email. “And there is no question that we need to make hard choices to dramatically bring down our deficit. But this crisis was totally manufactured by a small group of extreme right wingers who are intent not on simply reducing government spending, but on destroying government altogether. And the bill that resulted was rightly described by most political commentators as a victory for their cause. I was willing to vote for a compromise. But this was not a compromise, it was a near complete capitulation.”
Himes gave the bill a luke-warm endorsement in explaining his vote.
“Compromise is never pretty, and this bill is no cause for celebration,” he said. “But we achieved several important things tonight. Most importantly, we have removed the calamitous specter of a default that would have devastated our economy and hurt every American family and business. We also removed both the threat of another absurd and dangerous debt ceiling fight, and deflected the House majority’s attack on Medicare and Medicaid. The cuts in this bill will be painful, but the bill protects critical programs that support education and our neediest citizens.”