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Area Lawmakers Hope To Stave Off Credit Downgrade In Debt Ceiling Talks

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Attention again turns to Capitol Hill for another debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling.
Mylon Medley
Attention again turns to Capitol Hill for another debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling.

Two years ago, the partisan battle over raising the debt ceiling led to the first ever downgrade of the federal government's credit rating. Now Republicans on Capitol Hill are again insisting they will not raise the debt cieling unless the president agrees to deeper spending cuts.

If United States defaults on its debts, Maryland and Virginia risk losing their AAA credit ratings, because their economies are tied to the federal government. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) says that will ripple through a region already dealing with sequestration.

"It will make any public financing of any project more expensive, costing taxpayers more, and meaning that, instead of stretching the dollar as far as it can go, we're actually reducing the value of the dollar."

But many Republicans don't want to authorize more borrowing unless Democrats agree to cut deeper than sequestration. Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) says Congress should lay out a spending blueprint before raising the debt ceiling.

"If we have no plan to balance our budget, we will be downgraded," Griffith says. "And so I think it s the responsible thing to do if we don't have a plan to not raise the debt ceiling until we get a plan."

Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.) blames his party's standard bearer for the pending impasse. He opposed a deal to extend and permanently expand some of the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class. Moran says the president took a lousy deal by accepting only about $600 billion in new revenue.

"The White House, it seems to me, was playing a poker game. You've got all the face cards and you decide to split the pot," Moran says. "It's beyond me, and now we re living with the consequences."

Now most Republicans say the discussion about tax increases is over, and they want even deeper spending cuts. And Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Va.) says the debt ceiling debate offers the perfect opportunity for the discussion.

"If you address the debt, then you're going to address the borrowing needs," Wittman says.

The government doesn't need to extend its borrowing limit until the summer, leaving some space for this divided Congress to hash out their differences.

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