Every Republican and Democrat who represents Pennsylvania in the U.S. House or Senate this week voted in favor of a deal to avert the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’
The package allows Bush-era tax cuts to expire for individuals making more than $400,000 and families making more than $450,000.
The bill passed the Senate 89 votes to 8 on Monday and the House 267 to 157 late Tuesday. President Barack Obama signed the bill shortly after the vote.
Most of the objectors, particularly in the House, were Republicans. 151 Republicans voted against the bill and 85 voted for it – including Reps. Barletta, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Kelly, Marino, Meehan, Murphy, Pitts, Platts, Shuster and Thompson.
Two members who would have surprised few observers by opposing the deal were Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Mike Kelly, both vocal conservatives. They acknowledged that, given Obama’s recent re-election and continued Democratic control of the Senate, the deal was the best Republicans could get. Obama and Democrats flatly refused to consider any bill that extended the tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
Toomey is the former head of the conservative Club for Growth. He served on the ‘super committee’ that sought unsuccessfully to secure a solution to the problem in 2011. There, he put on paper what many called the only serious proposal by either party.
Toomey told reporters, “In the end what I was able to do was vote for a package that spares 99 percent of all Americans from a tax increase that would otherwise happen.”
Other members, including Rep. Tom Marino, agreed. “I am encouraged that both the House and Senate were able to come to an agreement and overcome the lack of leadership displayed by President Obama throughout this painful process,” he said in a statement.
The ‘fiscal cliff’ refers to a combination of drastic tax increases and spending cuts that were set to take effect on Jan. 1 in the absence of a congressional debt reduction deal. The situation was created by Congress during 2011’s debt ceiling showdown. Tuesday’s deal addresses the tax side of the equation and delayed the cuts for an additional two months.
Agriculture policies, including milk price supports, were extended until September.