The U.S. House of Representatives tonight passed a Senate-backed deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff,” but all three congressmen who represent parts of Southwest Virginia voted against the compromise.
Republicans Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke County, Morgan Griffith of Salem and Robert Hurt of Chatham issued statements explaining their votes shortly after the measure cleared the House by a vote of 257 to 167, with 85 Republicans voting to pass it. Their statements are below:
“I voted against this legislation because it fails to address the biggest threat to the American economy and our nation as a whole – spending and debt. Early this morning, the Senate finally took action. The plan they passed continues out of control spending and does not go far enough to extend tax relief to hardworking families and many small businesses. The tax increases contained in this bill will take effect immediately, but the future spending cuts that have been promised may never happen. We do not have a tax revenue problem in America. Out of control spending is the problem – a national debt in excess of $16 trillion is a clear enough example, and this ‘deal’ does not address it on the spending side.
“The lack of cooperation by the Senate and White House on these issues has been particularly disappointing. While the House voted to cut spending and prevent tax hikes, the Senate repeatedly failed to act. As we ring in yet another year, it frustrates me and the people of the Sixth District that this issue has once again been punted further down the road. We must proceed with serious spending cuts that will get a handle on our debt crisis, balance the budget, and foster economic growth.”
“Tonight I voted NO on the Senate amendments to the House bill, H.R. 8. As many people know, I review every legislative proposal independently and work to make the best decision I can on behalf of the people of the United States and the residents of Virginia’s Ninth District. After reviewing all major aspects of the bill, I felt I could not support the Senate amendments.
“Reasonable people can disagree whether or not to support this Senate compromise. In fairness to those that voted yes, there are some good things in the bill. However, increasing spending for programs and paying for a two month delay of sequestration in part with new “revenues” were items that I could not support. In reviewing bills, I look at the short-term as well as the long-term consequences because they will affect our children and grandchildren for years to come. Passing a bill that raises revenues with only minor cuts is not a balanced approach, and is an approach that adds to the debt our children and grandchildren will be responsible for paying back.”
“We have known about the looming threat of the fiscal cliff for nearly two years. Yet, during that time, the United States Senate failed to take seriously this crisis, driving us to the edge of the cliff with its 11th hour vote on Tuesday morning. We in the House of Representatives took action this summer to replace the across the board cuts with responsible spending reforms and extend the current tax rates for everyone on behalf of the people of Virginia’s 5th District and all Americans. After months of failing to act on our proposals to keep taxes low and cut spending, I am glad that the Senate has finally delivered its own proposal to avert this fiscal crisis by preventing many of the job-destroying tax hikes that were set to take effect.
“The Senate proposal provides permanent tax relief to most Americans, and I believe that is a step in the right direction toward creating certainty for our families and small business owners. The proposal also enacts permanent estate tax relief for our small businesses and family farmers who need certainty in our tax code. But at a time when we as a nation own a 16 trillion dollar debt and borrow 45 cents on every dollar we spend, this legislation does absolutely nothing to address the federal government’s spending problem – in fact it only adds to it.
“At a time when members of both parties agree that we need to cut spending, the Senate proposal makes virtually no spending cuts. At a time when we all know that our Social Security and Medicare programs are primary drivers of our spending, this legislation makes no necessary reforms. And, inexplicably, at a time when reining in reckless spending should be our primary concern, this legislation proposes billions of dollars in new spending.
“In August of 2011, President Obama negotiated and signed into law the Budget Control Act that would impose 1.2 trillion dollars in spending cuts to take effect in January of 2013 if no agreement could be made on serious deficit reduction. Now, more than a year later, no agreement has been made on deficit reduction. And now the President says we need to kick spending cuts down the road again. This “tax now, cut later” status quo in Washington simply cannot continue. We can and we must do better.
“In good conscience, and for the future of this great nation and of our children and grandchildren who will inherit this debt, I am unable to support continuing along this course. I remain deeply concerned for the future of our country as we continue on this path and I maintain my commitment to working on behalf of Virginia’s 5th District, with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to make the difficult choices necessary to restore our nation to fiscal sustainability.”