WHEELING - U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley voted "no" in January on raising the nation's debt limit by $1.3 trillion, but he said another vote is likely and he isn't certain where he will stand next time.
McKinley, R-W.Va., also has voted twice against the budget proposed by presumed Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and he defended those votes during a town hall meeting Thursday at West Virginia Northern Community College.
McKinley was one of only four House Republicans last year to vote against Ryan's proposed budget, and he was among 12 GOP members to reject it this year.
Photo by Joselyn King
U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., discusses job creation during a town hall meeting he convened Thursday at West Virginia Northern Community College.
"I voted against the Ryan budget. ... I broke from the pack on that," McKinley acknowledged. "I told the speaker West Virginia is the oldest state in the nation, and the 1st District of West Virginia is the oldest of the three. So if you're going to cut funding, cut spending ... Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, you're going to be hurting very hard us in West Virginia.
"I made a pledge and a commitment. ... I wanted to make sure we provided care for our seniors."
He said he also spoke personally with Ryan - chairman of the House Budget Committee - about his proposed budget and asked about its potential ramifications on taxes. He learned from Ryan that Americans likely would lose their charitable deductions, as well as deductions on interest for their homes. McKinley believed this would hurt a middle class that relies on such deductions.
"I have to give Paul Ryan credit, though," McKinley said. "He is trying to solve a problem. We can't be afraid to talk about the tough issues."
One attendee asked McKinley if he would vote in the future to raise the debt limit.
"I don't know yet - I really don't ... ," McKinley said. "None of us have all the answers."
McKinley said he consulted with former Republican Congressmen Newt Gingrich of Georgia and Phil Gramm of Texas before casting his vote. He said he and other freshmen House members asked them what happens when the government cannot borrow any more money.
"Keep in mind, the federal government every day borrows $4 billion to try to run this government," McKinley said. "In perspective, the state of West Virginia's general revenue fund is $4 billion. They can run the state of West Virginia for an entire year on what the federal government borrows every day."
McKinley said he and other members of Congress began hearing that seniors and members of the military wouldn't get paid if the debt ceiling weren't raised.
"There is no way America is not going to pay the military," he added. "Our men and women are in harm's way, and their families were not going to be compensated for the risk their spouse was enduring while they are away. That's what we were facing."
Hospitals also wouldn't have received Medicare reimbursements for coverage if the debt limit weren't raised, according to McKinley.
He noted the overriding problem with raising the debt ceiling is that the House has made no corresponding dollar for dollar cut in government spending to go along with the higher borrowing limit. Because of this, a need to raise the debt ceiling again has surfaced, and House members likely will address the issue when they return from summer recess, according to McKinley.
"I'm waiting to see how we do it," he said. "I'm going to reserve judgment. We may be forced into doing it again. But we're not going to put our military and our senior citizens at risk because of squabbling between the House and Senate. We're going to cut this budget. You can't continue to operate with $1.3 trillion more (going out) than you have coming in."