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Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., center, joined by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, speaks Tuesday on Capitol Hill in Washington, after passage of the emergency legislation to prevent a default on government debt obligations. (AP Photo)

SD delegation votes for debt-ceiling compromise

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WASHINGTON -- All three members of South Dakota's congressional delegation voted in favor of the debt ceiling deal reached this week.

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Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011 on Tuesday.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., voted for it Monday night. President Obama signed it into law Tuesday afternoon. All three South Dakota officials issued statements supporting the agreement, while still bemoaning its weaknesses. Johnson referred to it as a "messy and crazy process."

"I support the bipartisan debt ceiling compromise for one reason -- the alternative is pain and chaos," he said in a press release. "This compromise keeps the full faith and credit of the United States intact, which is vital.

"The good news is that benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are off the table now. I would have preferred that Big Oil and millionaires and billionaires contribute to reducing the country's debt, but it was clear that congressional Republicans would not agree to that. I want the joint committee that will look for additional savings to look for responsible ways to raise revenue, too."

Thune said his party deserved credit for changing the nation's course on spending.

"This deal is far from perfect, but it is important to look at how Republicans have changed the direction of Washington," he said in a press release.

"This year began with President Obama presenting a budget that increased spending by 55 percent, increased taxes by $1.6 trillion, and doubled the debt to the staggering sum of $26 trillion in just 10 years.

"With the deck stacked that heavily against Republicans, we were able to negotiate a deal that is a good first step in the opposite direction President Obama and congressional Democrats wanted to take this country."

Noem said the positions she took while campaigning for the state's sole House seat were proven correct by the compromise bill.

"From the time when I took office in January I have consistently said that in order for me to support any plan to raise the debt ceiling, Congress would have to make real spending cuts of the same magnitude, fundamentally alter the way Washington spends our hardearned dollars and hold the line against any tax increases," she said in a press release.

"This bill isn't the one I would have drafted, but it meets these objectives. Republicans only control onehalf of one-third of our government, but due in large part to the newly elected freshmen class, we have fundamentally changed the course of our fiscal debate. If the freshmen weren't here, we would be debating tax hikes and a second so-called 'stimulus.' Instead, we're making historic cuts, real reforms and avoiding default."

Both Thune and Noem said they were concerned about potential deep cuts in defense spending.

The debt deal passed the Senate 74-26, with 45 Democrats, including Johnson, voting yes and six voting no.

On the GOP side, 28 voted yes, including Thune, and 19 voted no.

Two independents split their votes.

It passed the House 269-161, with 174 Republicans, including Noem, and 95 Democrats voting yes. Sixty-six Republicans and 95 Democrats opposed it.

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