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Most of state’s congressmen voted against deal

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

Only one Virginia congressman—Rep. Gerry Connolly—voted for the fiscal cliff deal Tuesday night in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The other 10, Democrat and Republican alike, voted no.

In a late-night press release, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, said he voted against the deal because it is “the epitome of what is wrong with Washington—waiting until the very last minute to pass a package negotiated by only a few.”

The bill, Wittman said, “unfortunately does what Congress does best—kicks the can down the road.”

Wittman said the bill did nothing to address long-term spending problems and postponed a true solution to the “sequestration” spending cuts.

Those spending cuts, which were scheduled to start this month without congressional action to avert them, would include billions of dollars cut from the defense industry.

That could hit Virginia—and Wittman’s defense-heavy district—hard, as studies indicate the state could lose up to 200,000 jobs if all of the defense cuts in the sequestration plan were put in place.

Wittman said the fact that the fiscal cliff deal puts off a solution to the sequestration problem—for two months—just “creates even more uncertainty for our defense industry.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R–7th, also voted against the bill.

Cantor issued no statement on his opposition, beyond telling reporters in Washington before the vote Tuesday night that he opposed the bill.

Both of Virginia’s U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Jim Webb, voted for the bill.

Warner—who has been working on debt and deficit issues—issued a statement saying the fiscal cliff deal is only a stopgap measure.

“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 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.”

Webb didn’t put out a statement. His term ends today, as Senator-elect Tim Kaine is sworn into office.

Kaine campaigned last fall on a proposal to fix the fiscal cliff that sounds similar to the bill now passed. He wanted to let taxes go up on those making more than $500,000 a year.

The bill raises taxes on individuals making more than $400,000 or families earning more than $450,000.

Kaine released a statement saying he will “look forward to tackling our ongoing budget issues” after today’s swearing-in. He said the just-passed fiscal cliff bill is “far from perfect” and that lawmakers still have to find longer-term solutions.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028

cdavis@freelancestar.com

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