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.
Lorton, which is split between two congressional districts — the 8th District (Congressman Jim Moran) on the east side of Interstate 95 and the 11th District (Congressman Gerry Connolly) on the west side, saw both a "yes" vote (from Connolly) and a "no" vote (from Moran).
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."
Democrat Congressman Gerry Connolly, who represents the 11th District, 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.”
Moran had more to say on the matter: "Throughout negotiations aimed at staving off the economic damage of the so-called 'fiscal cliff,' I have been hoping to cast a vote for a balanced deal which addressed both long run fiscal issues and the artificial short term crisis created by the Budget Control Act," he said in a news release issued late Tuesday night after the vote.
"Unfortunately the bill before us today is wholly inadequate," he said. "It leaves our country with three more 'fiscal cliffs' to negotiate over the next three months. There's no clarity as to how we preserve the full faith and credit of the U.S. by raising the statutory debt limit, the economically devastating sequester is delayed two months but remains in full effect, and there's no direction as to how we will fund the government for the remainder of the year when the continuing resolution runs out in March.
"Each of these deadlines represents a major political battle in which nearly 40 percent of Northern Virginia's economy in terms of federal contracts and federal employees will be on the chopping block," he said. "Our leverage to strike a balanced deal will only be weaker in those coming battles following passage of this bill.
"Furthermore, I question the wisdom of permanently locking in revenue levels which are far too low," he said. "This includes an estate tax structure which provides a massive tax cut for a small minority of the richest Americans at the cost $369 billion dollars, in exchange for only a temporary extension of important programs that help low and middle class Americans.
"I am deeply concerned by the long term consequences of this hastily crafted agreement," Moran said, "both in terms of our ability to invest in our priorities, such as educating and training future generations, and in terms of the way we govern this country. For these reasons, I cannot in good conscience support this legislation."