News / USA

Congressman Defends Obama on Debt Ceiling Talks

Congressman Jim Langevin (undated photo)
Congressman Jim Langevin (undated photo)

“America pays its bills,” says Congressman Jim Langevin, Democrat, from the northeastern state of Rhode Island.  As efforts continue to break an impasse over raising the nation’s debt limit and avoid the United States defaulting on its financial obligations for the first time in history, President Obama has a strong ally in the Congressman from Rhode Island.

Speaking on VOA’s Press Conference USA, Langevin, a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, says he is confident that a bipartisan compromise can be reached by the August 2nd deadline. However, Langevin is adamant that any deficit reduction deal must include a combination of budget cuts and revenue increases. Langevin says that his Republican colleagues who insist on budget cuts only are being unrealistic and that the “pledge and mantra of ‘no new taxes’ has become some kind of a religion for them.”

Langevin argues that is it “not fair that we ask the middle class and seniors to bear the entire burden of getting our fiscal house in order. There has to be shared sacrifice.”  Langevin gives President Obama great credit for speaking on behalf of Democrats and for charting a balanced course in the deficit reduction talks.   He says that “there are very few presidents in modern history that have had this much thrown at them in such a short time on so many issues, especially the economy.”

A leading voice on cyber security in the House of Representatives, Congressman Langevin recently introduced a bill, which would allow the US Department of Homeland Security extended authority to regulate private networks deemed to be part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. “The more dependent we become on the Internet, the more vulnerable we are,” he says. He explains that a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors is key to cyber security. The Congressman is concerned that a cyber attack could not only result in a shutdown of the United States’ electric grids, but it could also result in loss of lives and a major economic downturn.

On US foreign policy, Congressman Langevin strongly supports President Obama’s decision to begin withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan. If anything, he’d like to see a swifter drawdown. He also endorses his actions in Libya. However, Langevin contends that it would have been better if the President had sought authorization from Congress for the UN sanctioned and NATO-led effort to establish a no-fly zone.  The Congressman noted an irony within Congress over funding for the Libya mission. “You have some very liberal Democrats who are joining with Republicans” in opposing funding for the mission.  Langevin detects a degree of hypocrisy on the part of his Republican colleagues regarding their opposition to US involvement in Libya.  “If there was a Republican President in the White House, there would be not a single Republican that would be in opposition to our involvement in Libya.”

Full interview with Congressman Jim Langevin on VOA’s Press Conference USA


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