What better way to spend a restful holiday break than playing chicken on a fiscal cliff? The last week showed that DC isn’t about to break out in a round of kumbaya, but that cooler heads can prevail. After weeks of tense negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans, the House approved a Senate-passed bill on Tuesday to avert the fiscal cliff. Although the bill increases tax rates on some of the wealthiest Americans and delays sequestration for two months, it is not the broader “grand bargain” that many observers wanted. The compromise didn’t solve, or even seriously address, the deficit problems that prompted Congress to write the laws that nearly forced the nation over the cliff in the first place. The House voted 257-167 (Republicans: 85-151, Democrats: 172-16) to send the bill (brokered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and VP Joe Biden) that overwhelmingly passed the Senate (89-8) in the early hours of New Year’s Day to President Barack Obama. Despite conservative opposition, including ‘no’ votes from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, the measure easily cleared the House with the support of House Speaker John Boehner and the overwhelming majority of House Democrats. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “The bill represented the largest tax increase in the past two decades and was passed over opposition from conservative Republicans in the House who objected to the fact that it contained no long-term spending cuts of any significance.” A PARTY DIVIDED In the Senate, 89% of Republicans who cast votes were in favor of the deal. In the House, 36% of Republicans who voted backed it. GOLD WATCHES Retirees gave the fiscal cliff bill enough votes to squeak through the House. With 53 members who won’t be returning to the 113th Congress — 36 Dems and 17 GOPers — voting for the bill. RUBIO vs. RYAN Potential 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio voted with first-in-the-nation-caucus-state Iowa’s two senators in opposing the bill. But Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a possible 2016 candidate, voted “yes.” You will be hearing a lot about these conflicting votes and the contrast they’ll provide if Rubio and Ryan run against each other. BUT, there’s a lot of time between now and 2016, and this is not the last budget-related vote of the Obama presidency.
07 Jan 2013