U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas was among the 85 Republicans who voted last night to pass the so-called fiscal-cliff bill, saying it falls short of fixing budget problems but was needed to avert income tax hikes on individuals earning less than $400,000 a year.
In Washington state’s delegation, only Democratic Reps. Adam Smith of Bellevue Jim McDermott of Seattle and voted against the deal that avoids hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases and automatic spending cuts but increases deficits by $4.5 trillion over a decade. The vote roll call is here.
Herrera Beutler put out a statement explaining her action, which mirrored that of the other Washington Republicans. Reps. Dave Reichert of Auburn, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane and Doc Hastings of Pasco also voted in favor.
Herrera Beutler typically opposes actions that raise taxes but reasoned in this case the taxes already went up when Bush-era tax cuts expired on New Year’s Day. Anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist had offered much the same analysis in saying Tuesday that the cliff deal did not technically violate his no-tax pledge that some GOP lawmakers have signed.
Among elements of the bill that Herrera Beutler cited as good things was the federal sales tax deduction.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., also cited that deduction after her New Year’s Day vote in the Senate, saying it is worth on average about $500 for taxpayers in Washington. The deduction is continued for 2012 a 2013 for taxpayers in a half-dozen states that do not have income taxes.
Cantwell says it would affect about 850,000 filers in Washington that itemize their federal returns.
Herrera Beutler represents Southwest Washington in the 3rd district, which until noon Thursday includes Olympia. Redistricting moved most of Thurston County out of the 3rd and 9th districts when it created the new 10th district, which U.S. Rep.-elect Denny Heck of Olympia will be sworn into on Thursday. The 10th covers most of Thurston County and radiates west to Shelton and north to University Place and Puyallup.
Rep. Smith is in the 9th, which includes Lacey and east Thurston County until Thursday but is moved by redistricting north to wrap around south Lake Washington and include Bellevue.
In her statement, Herrera Beutler also cited help for homeowners who are underwater on mortgages and said it ensures Medicare recipients can see their doctors. The latter is a reference to stopping the automatic cut in Medicare reimbursements to doctors, which had been based on a Republican budget-control measure from the late 1990s that set a sustainable growth formula for rates.
Herrera Beutler’s full statement is here: