Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11th) said Tuesday afternoon that while he is "holding his nose," he is urging his colleagues to vote for a fiscal cliff deal that the Senate passed in the early hours of the new year.
“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.”
It was not certain Tuesday when the House, controlled by Republicans, would take up the fiscal cliff legislation.
The Virginia Democrat said the Senate-passed 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.
“There is a lot of good in this package," Connolly said. "But there is also a lot that is not addressed at all."
“We have a debt ceiling crisis pending," he said. "The next session of Congress must once again revisit the issue that nearly thrust our country into default and resulted in a downgrade of the nation’s bond rating for the first time in American history because of House Republican intransigence."
“We have a sequestration crisis pending and we will have to address it within the next few months or it’s going to have a huge drag on our economy,” he noted.
“It is a travesty that the House Republican leadership spent more than 15 weeks in recess this fall, instead of dealing with the tax cuts, sequestration, and the other fiscal cliff issues,” Connolly said. “We should not be dealing with these serious issues that threaten our nation’s economic well-being at the last possible hour, but at this point we have no choice.
“Hopefully, we can seize the spirit of the season and do that thing which we have done all too little of – compromise and come together,” Connolly said.
Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both Democrats, voted for the bill, which passed around 2 a.m. Tuesday. The vote was 89 "yeas" an eight "nays." Three senators did not vote.
"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.
Webb, who is retiring from the U.S. Senate, did not issue a press release about his vote. Senator-elect Tim Kaine, a Democrat, elected to the Senate Nov. 6, will take the oath of office Thursday.