N.Y.S. Representatives React to "Fiscal Cliff" Legislation

Posted January 2, 2013

Cliff avoided: Congress staves off tax hikes
By Brian Tumulty, Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The House voted late Tuesday to approve a Senate-passed compromise bill to avert the “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and spending cuts. The vote was 257-167 with all but one of New York's House Republicans voting in favor of the bill.

President Barack Obama was expected to sign the legislation into law before financial markets opened Wednesday.

The moment of truth in the drawn-out battle came shortly before 11 p.m. as the legislation topped the 218-vote majority needed for passage.

Seven of New York’s eight House Republicans joined many Democrats in voting to accept the compromise agreement, which was generally supported by New York Democrats. Lame duck Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle of Onondaga said she voted against the legislation, noting in a press statement that she was listed as not voting due to an electronic error.

The House vote came about 21 hours after the Senate passed the legislation, which renews most of the Bush-era tax cuts. It allows higher rates to kick in for families earning more than $450,000 and phases out many deductions for households earning more than $250,000.

Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York were among the 89 members of the Senate who voted to pass the measure.

The deal also postpones the fiscal cliff’s spending cuts for two months, averts a spike in milk prices and freezes congressional salaries.

Republican Reps. Chris Gibson of Kinderhook and Richard Hanna of Oneida County said they supported the bipartisan compromise, while Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island and Rep. Tom Reed of Corning echoed many other Republicans who complained earlier in the day the deal needed to be accompanied by spending cuts.

“I think that it’s the 11th hour,” Hanna said. “The public needs certainty and this does prevent tax increases for 98 percent of the population. It isn’t everything everyone wants, but I think right now it’s the best option we have and, frankly, it’s the only option.’’

Grimm called the compromise reached by Vice President Joseph Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell “completely one-sided.”

Reed of Corning was noncommittal until Tuesday night shortly before the vote, when he announced he would vote yes.

“My vote tonight secures tax cuts for 99 percent of our district on a permanent basis. Though we didn’t cut spending or deal with the Medicare and Social Security crisis as we had hoped, we acted to protect as many families and small businesses as possible on a permanent basis from the President and Democrats’ desire to raise taxes,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning. “I still believe the answer lies in cutting spending and reforming Medicare and Social Security to save it for generations to come. Sooner or later, we will have to address these issues and I for one support doing this as soon as possible.”

Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth also planned to vote yes, according to spokesman Terence Michos.

Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of the Bronx observed: “There are parts of it I don’t like, but I think it’s a compromise that’s better than the alternative. The alternative is to go over the fiscal cliff.”

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, urged Republicans to support the Biden-McConnell compromise.

“No compromise is perfect, but failing to pass this deal only ensures higher tax bills and reduced economic growth,” she said.

Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of Fairport described the compromise as “far from perfect,” but said she supported it.

“The process that led us here has been an utter disgrace,” Slaughter said as the House opened its floor debate. “Yet in this time of crisis, we must act first and foremost to protect the American economy.”

Slaughter said she would have preferred an income cutoff lower than $450,000 for renewing the Bush tax cuts, but it’s “not a killer” for her support.

Downstate Democrats such as Lowey and Engel support the higher income cutoff because their region of the state has more high income residents who have a higher cost of living.

(For original story, please visit http://www.stargazette.com/article/20130101/NEWS10/301010030/Cliff-avoided-Congress-staves-off-tax-hikes?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.)

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