Oregon delegation splits votes on fiscal cliff deal

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In the wee hours of New Year's Day, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly, 89-8, to pass the fiscal cliff deal brokered between the White House and Senate Republicans.

Late in the evening, the U.S. House voted to pass the deal as well, albeit on a much closer vote - 257 to 167. In the House, 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans voted yes; while 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans voted no. (It's a mighty rare thing to see something hit the floor, much less pass, without a majority of the majority caucus supporting it, to be sure.)

Interestingly, Oregon is the only state featuring three Democrats who voted against the deal -- Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader. Suzanne Bonamici and Greg Walden voted in favor, as did Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley in the Senate.

In a statement, Schrader said:

This is yet another short-term, Band-Aid solution that has become prevalent in Washington as of late. It neither tackles the largest drivers of our deficits, nor lays a framework to say we will do so in the future. I remain staunchly committed to passing a big, bold deficit reduction and jobs package that puts everything on the table, including revenue, spending cuts and entitlement reforms, puts our nation back on a fiscally sound trajectory and promotes growth and certainty for our businesses.

In a tweet on the morning of December 30th, Blumenauer said:

A poor stop gap plan is worse than the "cliff", which would force the tax and program reform America needs.

Slicing and dicing the roll call vote, I found it interesting that of the 16 House Democrats voting no, five are members of the Progressive Caucus (including DeFazio and Blumenauer) and six are members of the Blue Dog Coalition (including Schrader). Of course, majorities of both groups - including their leaders - voted in favor of the deal. So it doesn't seem to be particularly ideological.

Senator Merkley appears to have held his nose while voting aye (full statement here):

Although it does not do as much as I want, this bill does ensure that the wealthy will be contributing more as we work to bring our deficits under control. I far prefer that choice to further cuts to education, law enforcement, and investments in the infrastructure our economy depends on.

But let’s be clear: this deal carries great risks as well. This deal sets up more cliffs in the near future, including the expiring debt ceiling and the sequestration, pre-planned cuts to programs essential to working families. And as before, there will be some who use these cliffs to launch renewed attacks on Medicare and Social Security. We cannot let those attacks succeed.

And Senator Wyden wasn't happy with the process:

While the Senate found a way to steer America away from steep income tax increases on the middle class, maintain current reimbursements for doctors serving vulnerable seniors, and provide a break for working class families with children and college students, the manner in which this was produced felt more like Thelma and Louise than rational policy making. I will do everything possible to end the political brinksmanship and work for bipartisan tax, budget and Medicare reforms that create good paying American jobs and protect the Medicare guarantee while holding down health care costs.


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