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Debt limit splits U.S. House candidates

Corinna Robinson, a Democrat who wants to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, applauded recently passed legislation opposed by Noem that increased the nation's debt limit.

Last week, the House approved a debt limit increase, without any attached conditions, through March 2015. Noem voted against the legislation, as did the vast majority of House Republicans, but the measure still passed by a 221-201 vote.

“The most important thing is that everyone in Congress come together, regardless of their party, and do what’s in the best interests of the nation,” Robinson said in an interview Wednesday with The Daily Republic at the newspaper’s office in Mitchell. “There are times when we do have to increase the debt ceiling, when it’s warranted.”

Robinson, 49, is the only person so far to announce a bid for the Democratic nomination for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House, currently held by Noem.

On Wednesday, Robinson criticized the partisan standoffs that have plagued past debt limit negotiations and led to a 16-day government shutdown in October.

“It’s really disheartening that here in America we can’t bring people to the table to get bills passed,” she said.

In an email sent Wednesday to The Daily Republic, Noem said she has used the debates about the debt limit as opportunities to make reforms needed to control the $17.2 trillion national debt.

“We can’t just keep footing the bill for irresponsible spending without talking about correcting spending habits,” Noem said.

Noem described her refusal to vote for a debt limit increase as being similar to a mother refusing to hand a blank check to a child who has already maxed out a credit card.

“Instead, a parent might sit down with their child and say they will help them, but only if they make serious changes to the way they are spending their money,” she said. “That’s what needed to be done when it came time to decide how to handle America’s debt.”

The Senate approved the debt limit increase last week by a 55-43 vote, even though the legislation got no support from any Senate Republicans, including Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who endorsed Robinson’s campaign earlier this month, voted in favor of the legislation.