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Shelby, Sessions at odds over fiscal cliff deal

Published 11:02am Wednesday, January 2, 2013

An 11th-hour budget agreement by United States lawmakers has left Alabama Republican Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby at odds.

The deal, which was reached just before the deadline late Tuesday night, was made to avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in automatic tax increases and spending cuts. If lawmakers had not passed the measure, more than $500 billion in tax increases would have hit the economy, while $109 billion in government spending would have been cut from the military and domestic programs.

The deal passed the Senate by a vote of 89-8 early Tuesday, and was endorsed by the House of Representatives 257-167 late Tuesday.

Sessions, who voted in support of the measure, said the legislation will help end a period of uncertainty that may impact the country’s opportunities for economic growth.

“This legislation is necessary to prevent a large and painful tax increase from falling on the vast majority of Americans,” Sessions said. “Now, it is important that we place our focus directly on the real cause of our nation’s looming debt crisis – the continued surge in spending.”

Shelby was one of the eight senators to vote against the bill.

“This package raises taxes, increases spending and will lead to more borrowing,” he said. “It falls short of the measure necessary to promote job creation, economic growth and fiscal stability.”

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby also voted against the bill.

“I ran for Congress campaigning on the need to get government spending under control,” Roby said. “A last-minute deal that raises taxes without cutting spending goes against my core beliefs and against the conservative values of Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Alabamians didn’t send me to Washington to raise their taxes so the President can spend more of their hard-earned dollars. They sent me to get control of spending so we can ensure America’s promise for the next generation. Washington doesn’t have a taxing problem; it has a spending problem. We have $16 trillion in debt. We spend more than a trillion dollars more than we take in every year. It’s past time we get serious about this country’s spending problem and restore fiscal sanity to the budget.”

In a statement released Tuesday, White House officials said the measure would impose a 39.6 percent tax on singles who earn more than $400,000 annually and married couples who jointly earn more than $450,000.

The bill also blocks spending cuts for government agencies for two months and extends benefits for the long-term unemployed.

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