UPDATE: The House voted 257-167 to approve the deal. After the vote, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, said he voted no because it lacked spending cuts, despite his support for making middle class tax cuts permanent. “It was a protest vote,” Bachus said.
The U.S. House of Representatives is still in session on New Year’s night, preparing to vote on legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff by preserving tax cuts on most Americans and extending unemployment compensation for about 2 million people, including about 18,000 in Alabama.
At least three of Alabama’s six Republican members are expected to vote against the deal, based on interviews with them on Capitol Hill tonight.
The Senate passed a compromise package early this morning after successful last-minute negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The deal passed 89-8, putting the pressure on the House to act before a series of tax increases and automatic spending cuts – nicknamed the fiscal cliff — were scheduled to kick in with the new year.
The Senate-passed package allows tax rates to rise on people who earn more than $400,000 a year but keeps tax cuts for everyone else, and delays for two months the automatic spending cuts that would have been devastating to military and domestic programs alike.
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, said she’s voting against the deal because it does not include spending cuts and will increase the federal debt.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said it was “unconscionable” for Congress to rush such massive, complex legislation through in the last few hours of the session.
“It also very much concerns me … that it increases America’s deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade,” Brooks said. Asked if would prefer the country go over the fiscal cliff rather than approve the compromise, Brooks said he would have preferred spending cuts large enough to offset the cost of the tax cuts.
“Given what I was left with, (I will vote what I think) is in the best interest of my country,” Brooks said.
Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, said he was leaning against the deal.
“I can make an argument that the permanent extension of some tax cuts is a good thing, but it’s hard to go back home and look the people I work for in the eye and say this is really the best we could have done,” Bonner said.