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West Texas Congressmen split on fiscal cliff vote

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Updated: 1/02/2013 7:16 am

The United States is spared from going over the fiscal cliff because of a negotiated deal. The Republican-run House of Representatives voted late Tuesday night to approve the measure 257-167.
This is the plan that passed the U.S. Senate with overwhelming bi-partisan support.

It raises taxes on individuals earning more than $400,000 a year and couples earning more than $450,000 a year. It also extends unemployment benefits.  Spending cuts will not be addressed for two months.
President Obama praised lawmakers for reaching an agreement that protects the middle class.

"Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest two percent of Americans while preventing a middle class tax hike that could have sent the economy back into recession and obviously had a severe impact on families all across America," he said.

Two representatives from West Texas were split on the vote.
Lubbock Congressman Randy Neugebauer voted no, and Congressman Mac Thornberry, whose district includes Amarillo, voted yes.

Neugebauer released a statement explaining his reason for voting against the plan to keep the U.S. from going over the cliff. It reads in part:

"I support smaller government, lower taxes, and a balanced budget, but the Senate plan increased taxes and included no substantial spending cuts.  The plan called for increasing taxes by $41 for every one dollar reduction in spending, further funding the government's spending habit.

"The American people work hard for their money and deserve to keep as much of it as possible. They already pay a substantial amount in taxes. I think it's irresponsible that our government isn't addressing its spending problem, but simply asking Americans for more money."

Thornberry explains it a bit differently in his statement:

"Making the current tax rates permanent for the vast majority of Americans, as this bill does, is a major accomplishment.  I continue to hear from many people in our part of Texas that stability in the tax code is necessary for their families and their businesses."

But Thornbery points out the bill isn't perfect.

"This bill is a missed opportunity to take meaningful action to deal with our very serious spending problem, and I supported efforts to have significant cuts included in this measure.

"I am a conservative and a realist.  We do not have to do all of these things in one bill - and it would be a mistake to try - but we must do them for the sake of our country and our future."

Thornberry was one of four Texas Republicans to vote in favor of the bill.
Although this protects most Americans from a bigger tax hike, they will see their paychecks get little bit smaller in 2013. A temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes expired on New Year's Day, and this plan didn't keep that from happening.

A summary of the bill can be seen here.
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