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Luetkemeyer takes aim at pending congressional vote to raise national debt ceiling

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 10, 2009 - With last weekend's House health care vote now settled, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, is now focusing on what could be the next controversial issue before area members of Congress:

Increasing the national debt.

Luetkemeyer is among the Republicans seeking a separate vote. Some Democrats are planning to attach the increase to this fiscal year's defense appropriations bill, an approach often used by legislators over the past decade when the nation's debt ceiling needed to be increased. Critics say the aim is to reduce the spotlight.

Discussion already is underway in the U.S. Senate, in response to estimates that the debt ceiling will need to be increased by mid-December, at the latest. Leutkemeyer says the ceiling could be breached by the end of this month. Some moderate Senate Democrats are calling for a commission to address the nation's debt problem, tied in part to last year's economic meltdown.

Luetkemeyer co-signed a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that calls for a separate debt ceiling vote.

“We believe lawmakers should not be allowed to evade this debate. Raising the debt limit is sufficiently important to require a separate roll-call vote,'' the group wrote. "...The national debt stands at more than $11.927 trillion while our U.S. Federal budget deficit is a staggering $1.42 trillion — the highest since World War II." 

“One of the biggest concerns I hear from constituents is that our nation cannot keeping spending money the taxpayers do not have,” Luetkemeyer said in a statement. “We need to get our fiscal house in order and make the difficult decisions needed to pay down our nation’s debt. We should not be passing this debt off to our children and grandchildren.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.