Western Pennsylvania’s U.S. Sen. John Fetterman and U.S. Rep. Summer Lee were among lawmakers in Washington to vote against the debt ceiling and budget cuts package after weeks of tense negotiations.
The compromise package negotiated between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy restricts spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling into January 2025 and changes some policies, including imposing new work requirements for older Americans receiving food aid and greenlighting an Appalachian natural gas line that many Democrats oppose.
The legislation passed the Senate on Thursday night in a 63-36 vote, with support from 46 Democrats and 17 Republicans.
Fetterman, D-Braddock, was one of five Democratic senators to oppose the bill. He said he voted against the legislation because it included cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits.
“Given that Republicans are more obsessed with hurting poor people than holding banks accountable, you’d think that someone who didn’t have a job could crash our economy,” Fetterman said in a statement.
“I did not agree to these SNAP restrictions, and I won’t give Republicans an opening to try and take food from more food-insecure Americans in Farm Bill negotiations later this year,” he added.
MY STATEMENT ON THE DEBT CEILING VOTE????
As chair of the Nutrition subcommittee on Agriculture, SNAP benefits fall within my jurisdiction in the upcoming Farm Bill.
— Senator John Fetterman (@SenFettermanPA) June 2, 2023
Fetterman said he told Democratic leadership and the White House that he would have voted to avoid default if his vote had made the difference between the legislation passing or failing.
Pennsylvania’s senior senator, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, voted in favor of the bill.
“This bipartisan bill protects Pennsylvanians’ jobs and hard-earned savings, and the full faith and credit of the United States. American families pay their bills and so should the government,” Casey said in a statement.
The legislation passed the House on Wednesday in a 314-117 vote, with support from 165 Democrats and 149 Republicans.
Lee, D-Swissvale, was one of 46 Democrats to oppose the bill.
“Over the past few weeks, Republicans in Congress showed their willingness to take us to the brink of a crushing default to force their cruel agenda through. They have proven time and time again their disdain for democracy and working Americans,” Lee said in a statement.
“They have placed their budget priorities over the poorest and most vulnerable,” she added.
Lee and U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, were the only two members of Pennsylvania’s 17-member congressional delegation to vote against the bill in the House.
Biden said in a statement following passage that senators from both parties “demonstrated once more that America is a nation that pays its bills and meets its obligations — and always will be.”
He said he would sign the bill into law as soon as possible.
The Associated Press contributed.