The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday night passed HR 8, the Tax Relief Extension Act, a permanent extension of many Bush-era tax cuts by a vote of 257 to 167. The late-night vote was taken at 10:57 p.m.
Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11th), whose district includes most of Centreville, voted for the measure but did so "holding my nose," he said Tuesday before the vote, in a news release.
The legislation keeps the Bush era tax cuts for individuals making less than $400,000 and couples making less that $450,000. It also makes permanent the fixes for the Alternative Minimum Tax and delays government spending cuts for two months.
Here's the breakdown of Northern Virginia's votes Tuesday on the so-called "fiscal cliff" legislation, which the Senate passed early Tuesday morning:
- Sen. Mark Warner: "yea"
- Sen. Jim Webb: "yea"
- Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th): "yea"
- Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th): "nay"
- Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th): "nay"
The legislation came to a vote in the House Tuesday night after it was passed by the Senate in the early hours Tuesday morning. Webb and Warner voted for the Senate measure. The Senate vote was 89 "yeas" and eight "nays." Three senators did not vote.
The votes were taken at the 11th hour, as a new Congress — including Virginia's new Senator-elect Tim Kaine — is set to be sworn in on Thursday. Sen. Webb is retiring from the Senate.
"The Senate has acted to avoid the immediate fiscal cliff, but this negotiated agreement does little to address our deficits and it does not raise enough revenue to put our country on a path to reduce our long-term debt," Warner said in a statement.
"In coming weeks, we still must reach agreement on steps to generate more revenues, make additional spending cuts, and strengthen and reform our entitlement programs so successful programs like Medicare and Social Security will still exist 30 years from now," Warner noted.
Senator-elect Kaine also weighed in on the vote: "This bill is far from perfect, and it's time Congress stops kicking the can down the road on a long-term solution to our fiscal problems," he said in a news release. "But it's an encouraging sign that Congress can put partisanship aside for the good of our economy and the American people. Much work remains to be done and I look forward to tackling our ongoing budget issues after I'm sworn in on Thursday."
In the House, Congressman Jim Moran took to the floor Tuesday night and said "we're going to look back on this night and regret it." Moran represents Northern Virginia's 8th District, which includes many federal workers. He voted against the bill, stating "nearly 40 percent of Northern Virginia's economy in terms of federal contracts and federal employees will be on the chopping block."
Republican Frank Wolf, who represents Northern Virginia's 10th District, also voted "no."
Connolly voted for the bill and indicated earlier Tuesday before the vote he would do so only by "holding my nose."
“This is not a perfect package, but it is something that gets us by until we can tackle the larger issues in the next Congress,” Connolly said. “I pray God that the next Congress is more willing to compromise than this one.”
Connolly said the measure provides an opportunity to:
- stabilize taxation for nearly all Americans and small businesses;
- maintain research and development tax credits and other measures to promote business expansion;
- preserve the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, and credits that help families afford college tuition;
- prevent severe cuts in Medicare physician reimbursement
- extend emergency unemployment benefits, and
- provide a temporary reprieve on sequestration.