Rep. Blake Moore is ‘positive towards’ proposed debt ceiling agreement

While the congressman cites permitting reform and regulatory PAYGO as big concessions within the agreement, and indicates his support, Gov. Spencer Cox believes it doesn’t go far enough.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) U.S. Rep. Blake Moore says a few words at the Memorial Day Ceremony on the South steps of the Utah Capitol, on Monday, May 29, 2023.

This weekend saw an announcement from President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on an “agreement in principle” to raise the nation’s legal debt ceiling and avert a potentially disastrous U.S. default.

Monday brought mixed reactions to the proposed deal from a pair of notable Utah politicians, including one who will be voting on it.

Speaking from a Memorial Day commemorative event at the Utah Capitol, Rep. Blake Moore, a Republican who represents Utah’s first congressional district, said that while he had spent all weekend poring over the proposal and was still making his way through it, he was generally encouraged by the deal.

“Seeing it come together, it’s good,” Moore told The Salt Lake Tribune. “Reining in some spending is what we’re focused on, and we’re able to do that with this debt ceiling.”

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, however, was somewhat less ebullient.

While he acknowledged excitement about avoiding default, which was projected to occur as soon as June 5, and which he referred to as “the worst-case scenario,” he acknowledged that he was ultimately a bit disappointed in the agreement, believing it does not go far enough in some areas.

“One, I would have liked to see a bigger reduction in some spending. Two, I desperately wanted to see more done on the provisions around permitting,” Cox told The Tribune. “There are some good things in there — it’s really low-hanging fruit. I think there’s a lot more that needs to be done, and I think both Democrats and Republicans that I talked to agree that more needs to be done. I’m sure in the kind of constrained timeframe, they were only able to get what’s in there. But [the permitting reform is] one piece we were hoping to see more.”

Conversely, Moore characterized the permitting reform that exists within the deal as one of the parts he was happiest about.

“If people want more renewable technology into our energy grids, we have to do permitting reform. This was a no-brainer,” he said. “And it’s sad that we had to use the debt ceiling, or part of it to get Democrats on board with something like this. Because many of them want it, too. But we got it done.”

He was also pleased to see some immediate spending cuts as part of the deal, and called “the COVID clawback money” provision both “obvious” and “another no-brainer.”

Moore was further encouraged by the regulatory PAYGO, arguing that it will help rein spending in. Years from now, he contended, people will look back at that part of the deal as an important inclusion.

“The regulatory PAYGO piece is going to be something that, I think, over time, you can look back and say, ‘This has constrained a lot of wasteful spending, and I’m glad we did that back in that debt ceiling,’” Moore said. “That’s one of the key things.”

Cox wasn’t completely disheartened by the proposal.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Gov. Spencer Cox visits with the crowd at the Memorial Day Ceremony on the steps of the Utah Capitol Building on Monday, May 29, 2023.

He did cite “some very positive things in there, as well,” notably components intended to bolster military spending and to help veterans.

Still, while Cox is “disappointed in the overall deal,” he conceded that when juxtaposed against “the catastrophe of a default,” he understands the need to get a deal done.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney on Monday issued a statement encouraging both the House and Senate to pass the legislation.

Moore said he would head back to Washington on Tuesday in preparation for a vote.

While his office has not yet issued an official news release on the subject, he pointed to the concessions that Republicans were able to get as “a solid win,” indicated that the legislation would likely have his vote and that he expects it to pass.

“I am, preliminarily,” Moore said. “… I’m positive on this, and looking forward to finalizing the last few [details]. I still haven’t even fully read it yet — it just got posted last night — but I’m positive towards this and look forward to supporting it.

“… We need to make sure to get it done.”