LI's House members react warily to debt pact

Congressman Steve Israel at Long Island MacArthur Airport. Congressman Steve Israel at Long Island MacArthur Airport. (May 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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WASHINGTON -- The reactions Sunday night by Long Island congressmen Peter King and Steve Israel to the announcement of an eleventh-hour debt-limit agreement hints at the perilous vote the deal faces in the House Monday or Tuesday.

King, the veteran Republican from Seaford, worked hard in a telephone interview to avoid, as he put it, "taking a victory lap." He will vote for the deal.

Israel, a rising member of the House Democratic leadership from Dix Hills, issued a statement teeming with frustration and doubt. Israel said he's undecided.

That split reflects both the views of both parties' House leadership, and suggests a close vote in the House as both chambers of Congress take up the debt limit measure for approval.

The measure faces easier passage in the Senate, where Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a party leader, promoted the bill, which also has GOP support.

But members of both the left and the right in the House have already complained about the deal and the way it was crafted, a process even President Barack Obama called "messy."

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Some Democrats are grumbling that Obama and their party gave away too much; that the GOP, driven by the tea party-inspired bloc, won. Members of the tea party bloc wanted more and threatened to vote no on the bill.

King hailed the deal as a success.

"Bottom line is we're talking about large spending cuts and no tax increase," King said.

He praised House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for his leadership, and agreed with Boehner's assessment in his conference call with House Republicans Sunday night that "he's achieved 98 percent of what was in his bill."

Israel implicitly acknowledged that the GOP won more than the Democrats.

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"It's frustrating that the most extreme Republicans have brought us to the brink of default. Time is up and we need a fair deal. Clearly the product of a bipartisan agreement would have been better than a rushed deal made at the last minute," Israel said in a statement.

"I will carefully review the details before reaching a judgment."

The House and Senate Democratic caucuses will meet Monday to discuss the measure.

Until then, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) said she also is undecided.

Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights) and Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) did not comment Sunday night.

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