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Minn.’s Ellison A ‘No’ On Debt Deal; Franken Yes

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(credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — deficit-reduction deal approved by the U.S. House on Monday split Minnesota’s representatives, with the plan losing support from the left and right ends of the state’s congressional delegation.

Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum joined Republican Reps. Chip Cravaack and Michele Bachmann in voting against the bill. The plan received “yes” votes from Minnesota’s other four congressmen: Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, and Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen.

The compromise plan would combine a record increase in the government’s borrowing limit with the promise of more than $2 trillion in spending cuts. House members voted to approve the plan 269-161, and the Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday.

The vote came after a months-long standoff over raising the nation’s debt limit to keep the U.S. government able to pay its bills.

McCollum released a statement saying she had twice voted to increase the debt ceiling during the process but that tying “massive cuts” to a debt ceiling increase was “completely unnecessary, totally counterproductive, and it will make America’s job crisis even worse.”

Hours before the House vote, Cravaack hinted at a “no” vote without outright promising one, telling WCCO-AM radio that the deal “doesn’t solve the problem.”

Walz, in a statement after the vote, said the compromise “is not perfect,” but he believes it will help stabilize the economy.

Kline released a statement saying the bill was “far from perfect,” but he said the plan will “enable America to pay its bills and fundamentally change the way Washington spends taxpayer money.” Kline also said he’s glad the proposal is free of tax increases.

“Deficit reduction should not be enacted in a hostage situation,” Ellison said at a news conference held by the Congressional Progressive Caucus before the vote. He accused tea party Republicans of forcing deep spending cuts that he said would hurt the economy.

On the other side of the aisle, Cravaack said in the radio interview that the cuts weren’t deep enough. “It doesn’t solve the problem,” the Republican said. “Americans want us to solve the problem.”

The debate over raising the borrowing limit had already divided the state’s four Republican House members, with Bachmann and Cravaack rejecting a plan Friday to increase the debt authority and Kline and Paulsen voting yes. Bachmann rejected the latest proposal while on the presidential campaign trail Sunday, saying the spending cuts weren’t enough.

“Someone has to say no. I will,” she said in an emailed statement from her campaign.

Minnesota’s two Democratic senators — Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar — have promised support for the deal.

Klobuchar announced her support Monday, saying it would prevent a U.S. default that would hurt consumers by raising interest rates while beginning to reduce the deficit. The senator predicted that the Senate would approve the deal.

“The main focus here is to save our country from defaulting on our debt obligations, which would have caused real pain for Minnesota’s families and businesses,” Klobuchar said in an interview.

She added: “The American people now understand this issue — they understand what would have happened to their mortgage rates. … I’m sure people will run cheap political ads on this stuff, but we have to do what’s responsible.”

Franken joined Klobuchar in pledging his support for the deal, but criticized the agreement for relying too heavily on spending cuts.

“Nevertheless, I will vote for this package, because defaulting would have grave economic consequences for my Minnesota constituents,” the senator said in a news release.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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