U.S. Rep. Ron Barber tonight voted to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans while sharply criticizing congressional leaders for end-of-the year maneuvers that briefly took the nation over the fiscal cliff and failed to offer a long-term solution to automatic, across-the-board budget cuts.
"We finally took the necessary step to extend tax cuts for more than 98 percent of Americans," Barber said after tonight's vote. "But our job is far from over. We again have failed to substantively address our nation's growing debt and deficit."
"We owe the American people far better than this," Barber added. "The dangerous political maneuvers that took us over the cliff are irresponsible and I call on my colleagues to stop the political gamesmanship and come together in a bipartisan manner to finish the job."
The House voted tonight 257-to-167 with bipartisan support to permanently extend income tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 per year and families earning less than $450,000 per year. The bill also extends unemployment insurance for 2 million Americans who are seeking work. The Senate already has passed the legislation and it now goes to the president for his signature.
Barber had strongly supported protecting tax cuts for middle class families earlier in the 112th Congress.
While the bill that passed the House tonight addresses income taxes and unemployment insurance, the agreement failed to address spending and pending budget cuts.
In August 2011, Congress approved a series of mandatory, automatic, across-the-board cuts to federal programs as part of a broad agreement to increase the debt ceiling. Those cuts, known as sequestration, were scheduled to go into effect tomorrow.
As part of tonight's budget agreement, which was voted on as a single package, the cuts were not averted but delayed for two months.
"While our debt is increasing by nearly $4 billion per day, we have voted to delay by two months making the common-sense spending cuts that we all know are necessary to give certainty to Americans, to businesses and to our entire economy."
Barber is opposed to the across-the-board cuts mandated by sequestration and is focused on reaching a balanced, bipartisan and responsible solution that will reduce our debt and deficit with thoughtful, prudent and targeted cuts.
"As we enter the 113th Congress and address our fiscal problems, I will continue fighting to protect critical programs for seniors, families and children that matter to Southern Arizonans and protect the missions at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca and the 162nd Fighter Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard -- all of which are essential to our local economy and the nation's defense."
Less than two weeks ago, Barber criticized leaders of the House of Representatives for leaving Washington without addressing the looming fiscal cliff. That came after House leaders brought forward and then pulled an earlier proposal without allowing for a vote.
Barber today also voted to prohibit a pay increase for members of Congress in 2013.