Crisis averted. Let the countdown to the next crisis begin.
After a day of remarkable swings, House Republican leaders folded and brought to the floor a bill they knew they needed Democrats to pass. The final tally was 257-167, with 172 Democrats joining 85 Republicans in favor. This broke House Speaker John Boehner’s practice (named for ex-Speaker Denny Hastert) that bills must pass with “the majority of the majority.” It will be interesting to see whether conservative members’ ire remains focused on the Senate or whether it will shift to Boehner with the Speaker’s re-election coming up on Thursday.
Georgia Republicans lined up unanimously against the American Taxpayer Relief Act: Reps. Tom Price of Roswell, Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County, Phil Gingrey of Marietta, Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville, Jack Kingston of Savannah, Paul Broun of Athens, Austin Scott of Tifton and Tom Graves of Ranger all voted no.
That’s a major break from the state’s Republican senators — Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss supported the 89-8 Rockin’ New Year’s vote in the Senate. It was a sign they surely noticed.
On the Democratic side, Rep. John Barrow of Augusta voted no, while Reps. David Scott of Atlanta, Hank Johnson of DeKalb County and Sanford Bishop of Albany all voted yes. (Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta is home after the death of his wife.)
Here’s what some of our folks had to say:
Austin Scott: “It’s the spending aspect of the bill that’s the problem for me. … [But] there’s some concern that if you send it back to [the Senate] with an amendment, that the country’s in limbo for several days.”
Johnson: “This is not a grand bargain by any stretch of the imagination and I think most of us will want to do everything in a grand bargain, vote it up or down, so from that standpoint it’s a little disappointing. … [But] the vice president did a good job negotiating this deal. It may be the best that we can expect.”
Broun: “I [told leadership] I’m going to vote no either way. It’s not in the best interest of this nation to continue spending money like we’re doing. It’s not about taxes because we’re taxed enough already.”
Kingston, sarcastically, when asked if he would support the deal: “I don’t know. I love senators so much that it’s hard to vote no on anything they do.”
Barrow (paper statement): “When we began discussions on getting our nation’s finances in order, our mission was to go big – reform our tax code, cut spending, and put us on a long-term path to deficit reduction. The package we’re voting on today doesn’t achieve any of these goals. I can’t support a plan that does nothing to address our debt, doesn’t make the necessary cuts in federal spending we need right now, and sets us up for another fiscal cliff in just a couple of months. I’m glad negotiators answered our call to block a pay increase for members of Congress, but it’s not nearly enough to put this country on the right path. This proposal isn’t a long-term solution — it just kicks the can two months down the road.”
Chambliss: “I would hope that’s what passes so it can be done and we’ve got the tax issue behind us. There’s no other way to look at it other than this is what Obama wanted. And now we get serious about spending and entitlement reform because that’s what we want and it’s our turn.”
A spokeswoman for Gingrey: “Rep. Gingrey opposed the Senate amendment because it did not address spending, entitlement or tax reform in any meaningful way. Furthermore, it continues Washington’s habit of kicking the can down the road, fails to provide certainty for job creators or protection for small businesses.”
- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider