Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker said they voted against a bill to temporarily raise the national debt limit Thursday because it did not take sufficient steps to reduce national spending on entitlement programs.
The bill, approved in a 64-34 vote, allows for a suspension of the debt ceiling until May 18.
Along with Alexander and Corker, 34 Senate Republicans voted against the final legislation, which was approved in a House of Representatives vote last week. In the House vote, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann voted to support the bill, which Rep. Scott DesJarlais voted against.
Alexander, who supported legislation to increase the debt limit in 2011, said he voted against the current bill because it did not offer significant debt reductions. Alexander cited a recent bill he co-sponsored with Corker, which would have allowed for a $1 trillion increase in the debt limit in exchange for a $1 trillion cut to entitlements.
"Sen. Corker and I have introduced legislation that would reduce entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion, in exchange for the president's expected request to increase the debt ceiling," Alexander said in a news release.
The senator added his support to a portion of the approved bill that would dock lawmakers' pay in the event a budget was not approved.
Corker, who also supported the 2011 bill to raise the debt ceiling, said he hoped future bills would include measures to reform entitlement programs, specifically Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Corker said he hoped members of Congress would be able to pass "structural, transformative reforms" to the programs in the coming months.
"We have an obligation to older and younger Americans," Corker said. "Young Americans expect us to solve our fiscal issues so they aren't saddled with debt and robbed of their opportunity for the American dream, and seniors expect us to honor the commitments we have made to them."
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