West Texas Congressional Delegation Splits on ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Vote
Tuesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation known as HR 8 by a 257 to 167 vote. The passing of the House resolution matches legislation passed by the U.S. Senate, 89 to 8, Tuesday afternoon to avert the fiscal cliff. The bill will be signed by President Barack Obama late Tuesday night. The compromise measure will raise tax rates on income over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples filing jointly.
Congressmen Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock) and Mike Conaway (R-Midland) both voted against the measure, while Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon, pictured) voted for it.
Congressman Thornberry issued a statement Tuesday night after casting his vote. Thornberry said, "Making the current tax rates permanent for the vast majority of Americans, as this bill does, is a major accomplishment. I continue to hear from many people in our part of Texas that stability in the tax code is necessary for their families and their businesses.
"Other provisions contained in this bill are important to the people in our district as well, including an answer on the death tax and a short-term extension of the current farm bill. It also prevents a 27% cut in Medicare reimbursement to doctors, which would have made it very difficult for Medicare patients to find a physician to treat them."
Meanwhile, Congressman Neugebauer said the Senate measure the House eventually passed didn't address the issue of reducing the size of government, "I support smaller government, lower taxes, and a balanced budget, but the Senate plan increased taxes and included no substantial spending cuts. The plan called for increasing taxes by $41 for every one dollar reduction in spending, further funding the government’s spending habit.
“The American people work hard for their money and deserve to keep as much of it as possible. They already pay a substantial amount in taxes. I think it’s irresponsible that our government isn’t addressing its spending problem, but simply asking Americans for more money.
“What’s worse, this plan increases our $16.4 trillion national debt by nearly $4 trillion. The President campaigned on the fact we need to address the nation’s exploding debt. He called on Congress to increase revenues and implement spending cuts. But in the end, the President and the Senate put together a bill that will push America further down the path to bankruptcy."
Congressman Thornberry also discussed the issue of spending cuts, "This bill is a missed opportunity to take meaningful action to deal with our very serious spending problem, and I supported efforts to have significant cuts included in this measure. I also believe that some parts of the bill discourage work and encourage dependency on the government. But tonight is not our last opportunity to fight for reforms and significant cuts.
"I am a conservative and a realist. We do not have to do all of these things in one bill – and it would be a mistake to try – but we must do them for the sake of our country and our future."
How did other notable Congressional Republicans vote? Speaker of the House John Boehner and former VP candidate Paul Ryan voted in favor of the bill. Majority Leader Eric Cantor voted against it.
The measure passed by Congress also puts a two-month hold on deep spending cuts known as sequestration that were due to take effect immediately. Congress will have to address the spending issue within the next 60 days.