Georgia's senators split on the measure to increase the debt ceiling, which passed Congress in the past two days and has now be signed into law by President Obama.
Here are statements released by the lawmakers:
Sen. Johnny Isakson
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today voted in favor of legislation that allows the federal government to increase its borrowing authority, known as the "debt ceiling," while at the same time requiring an equal dollar amount in cuts to federal spending. The legislation also requires the House and Senate to hold a vote on a balanced budget amendment before the end of the year.
The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 74 to 26, and it now goes to President Obama for his signature. On Monday evening, the House passed the legislation by a vote of 269-161. The passage of the legislation before the deadline of midnight tonight means that the government will avert defaulting on its obligations.
"From now on, whenever the president asks for a debt ceiling increase, it will be demanded that there be spending cuts equal to any increase, which is a historic precedent and a first step in the right direction toward ending the reckless spending in Washington," Isakson said.
Isakson also stated that he voted in favor of the measure because it gives Congress a vote on a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. Isakson has long insisted on a balanced budget amendment and has cosponsored two proposals this year aimed at that goal, S.J.Res.3 and S.J.Res.10.
"While I would have preferred more spending cuts, I am pleased to have been a part of a meaningful fiscal restraint that sets a precedent that there will never be a debt ceiling increase without cuts," Isakson said. "I first ran for public office in 1974 because of my concern for the growing cost of government and the rising debt. For the first time in the 37 years I have served in office, the federal government is actually cutting spending significantly with this legislation. This legislation requires spending cuts equal to or greater than the increase in the debt ceiling, and it includes enforcement provisions that keep Congress from promising one thing and doing something else. Also, a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget is the straitjacket Congress needs."
On Saturday, only three days before the federal government risked defaulting on its debt, Isakson spoke on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to stop bickering and to start finding common ground on the issues over which they disagree. Isakson laid out a framework for a potential plan to satisfy Republicans' and Democrats' sticking points, and Isakson's framework closely resembles the final agreement.
The legislation raises the debt ceiling and cuts spending in two stages. In the first stage, more than $900 billion in federal spending over 10 years will be cut and the debt limit will be raised by $900 billion. In the second stage, a special committee of six Democrats and six Republicans from the House and Senate will identify about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by Nov. 23, 2011, and there will be a vote on it by Dec. 23, 2011.
The committee is required to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts. If it fails to do so, a backup set of cuts would be triggered and the debt limit would be raised another $1.2 trillion. The backup cuts would be 50 percent defense and 50 percent domestic spending. Cuts to Medicare would be capped at 2 percent, with no reduction in benefits. Social Security, Medicaid, veteran's benefits, military pay and low-income programs would be exempt.
The agreement also requires that the House and Senate will vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment by the end of this year.
The legislation has garnered the support of several groups, including Americans for Tax Reform, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Business Roundtable, among dozens of others.
Georgia's other senator, Saxbly Chambliss, voted against the measure. Here is his statement:
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., released the following statement today:
"I applaud Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell for their work in preventing a default on our nation's obligations. But I cannot vote for the largest debt-ceiling increase in America's history without significant assurances that the bill's proposed spending reductions will actually be realized, and without reforms to the way our government budgets its spending of taxpayer dollars. This bill failed to meet those requirements.
"The enforcement provisions that are supposed to lead to decreased spending are simply not strong enough. The bill includes self-imposed spending caps, but does not provide a robust-enough procedure to ensure that those caps are not violated. Congress has shown time and again that it is incapable of staying within spending limits.
"This bill does not address the actual debt. Because cuts were not deep enough and we didn't provide a plan that will ultimately pay off our debts, we took no concrete steps toward reducing America's public debt. In fact, we are still borrowing $4 billion a day, and after the passage of this bill are projected to have an increase of some $10 trillion in debt over the next decade.
"Our fiscal crisis is the most important challenge we face. I will continue to work with my colleagues to fight for fiscal reforms that will put us on a path to reduce our deficit and debt, and to balance our nation's books through a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution."