Congressional delegation reacts to fiscal cliff deal - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Congressional delegation reacts to fiscal cliff deal

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Congress has spent the better part of a year debating a national budget, attempting to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Some members wanted tax increases, some wanted spending cuts, but all wanted a solution.

Part one of that solution came in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, when the U.S. Senate passed legislation that would increase taxes only for Americans making $400,000 or more annually and delay sequestration, or across-the-board budget cuts, for two months. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., voted in favor of the deal. The House of Representatives approved the Senate version late Jan. 1.

"This is not the big fix I want, but it's the best we can do at this late hour," Manchin said in a statement following his vote. "First thing tomorrow, though, I will start working again on making this a better deal for the people of West Virginia and this great country.

Rockefeller said the deal is not perfect, but he implored members of the U.S. House of Representatives to reach the same agreement.

"Tomorrow, House Republicans need to step up to the plate and join us in supporting middle class and working families in West Virginia and across America," he said in a statement after his vote. "House Republicans should allow a straight up or down vote on the bipartisan Senate deal, with no ducking and no gimmicks, and make clear to the American people whose side they're on."

However, West Virginia's two Republican House members voted against the bill. Rep. David McKinley, who represents the 1st Congressional District, said Republicans are consistently asked to concede on tax increases, but Democratic leaders have not given in on spending cuts.

"Simply put, the Senate version of the bill raises taxes, increases spending and only promises potential spending cuts in the future," he said in a statement. "It failed to address our long-term debt problem and is anything but the balanced approach promised by President Obama. American is now more than $16 trillion in debt. And Congress has failed in the past to cut spending that it promised to the public."

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who represents the 2nd District, agreed, saying she has called for a balanced approach that is not reflected in the Senate deal.

"If Congress is going to ask more from taxpayers, it must also ask more from Washington in the form of belt tightening across the federal government," Capito said in a statement. "Failing to enact meaningful reforms and spending cuts would truly be unforgivable to future generations."

However, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said it is Congress' responsibility to do right by taxpayers. He voted in favor of the Senate bill.

"With taxes scheduled to increase on working, middle-class families, Congress needed to do its job and pass legislation," he said in a Jan. 2 statement. "It would have been irresponsible to vote to go over the cliff."

The bill passed the Senate 89-8 and the House 257-167. Obama is expected to soon sign the legislation into law.