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Congress Adjourns Until Elections, Punts on Tax Cuts and Spending

4 years ago
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The House and Senate voted late Wednesday and early Thursday morning to adjourn until after the November elections, funding the government through Dec. 3 and leaving work on all 12 annual appropriations bills and a vote on the expiring Bush tax cuts until the chambers return for a lame duck session after Nov. 2.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made it clear Wednesday afternoon that leaving town was the top priority for leaders, both Democrat and Republican. "We both have the same goal in mind, and that is to get out of here," Reid said of an agreement he had reached with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "We may not agree on much, but I think, with rare exception, all 100 senators want to get out of here and get back to their states."

Although endangered incumbents were eager to leave Washington to concentrate on campaigning in their home districts, members of both parties left town frustrated that Democratic leaders had not held a vote on the Bush tax cuts before adjourning.

Harry Reid, John Boehner"I would have preferred to have the Bush tax cuts extended for everyone before we left," Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) told Politics Daily. "But the Democratic leadership evaluated that and made the decision not to bring them up. My preference would have been to get them done and passed as quickly as possible so that there is more certainty and clarity for businesses."

Behind the Democrats' decision not to vote on the expiring tax cuts was a growing intra-party feud over how to proceed, with President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for an end to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, while moderates pushed to extend the cuts for every income level, even temporarily.

In a display of just how much disagreement Democrats had within their own caucus, 39 House Democrats joined the House Republicans late Wednesday in an effort to force Congress to vote on the cuts before leaving town. Democrats won 210 to 209, but only after Pelosi took the unusual step of voting to break a tie.

Before the vote, Republican Minority Leader John Boehner blasted Democrats for leaving the issue on the table.

"The idea that we are going to leave here without extending these tax cuts and end the uncertainty is an irresponsibility on behalf of this Congress," Boehner said in a speech on the House floor. "How any member can vote to adjourn and punt this into a lame duck session, I think is putting your election above the needs of your constituents."

But House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer insisted that the Democrats are not divided in their commitment to cutting taxes and will hold a vote before they expire in January. "Democrats are united that there should be no tax increases on the first $200,000 of every American's income. Period," he told reporters. "That will be done before the end of the year."

In addition to the question of taxes, Democrats and Republicans traded blame before adjourning over who is responsible for none of the 12 appropriations bills being passed this year, despite the fact that the current spending bills expire on Friday.

"We have no business packing up and going home," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday. "We should stay here in session and consider each appropriations bill in order."

But Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said that his committee had sent all of the bills to the full Senate for consideration months ago, some as early as June, and suggested that Republicans had delayed action on them. "The bills are all at the desk, but somebody held them up," Inouye said. "I can assure you none of us held it up."

No matter who is to blame for the impasse, nearly all senators agreed Wednesday that something needs to change in the way federal spending is handled by Congress, which has for years failed to pass spending bills before their expiration dates.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told Politics Daily that the entire budgeting process needs to be reformed, and said this year is a perfect example as to why. "I think it's terrible," he said. "Here you've got an economy that is trying to struggle its way through this downturn and all Congress is doing is creating more uncertainty."

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41 Comments

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danielorevae

There is no real concern for the people of the United States from either party. The Democrats want to leave Congress in a mess in case they don't get re-elected. Then they can pout the rest of the time they are in office. The Republicans want to hold the Democrats to the wheel,because the Democrats now hold the majority. So the people of the US can just wait!!! As far as they are concerned. We must make a concerted effort to not only remove this Democratic Congress, but also all the old representatives that have been there for years, the nexst time around. WE NEED a completely NEW Congress and Senate, and let them know we will not tolerate this in bickering any longer. They work for the people and by God we will hold them all to that mark. WE DO NOT work for them!!!!

October 18 2010 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mistresslisalg

So they sneek out of washington, not doing their job, so the people won't know how they will vote on the critical issues just so they can ge reelected. Just look at Alyson Schwartz, she has not had one meeting with the public in the last 4 months hiding so no one knows what is she doing. But she is a liar, and promised to help a disabled person by fixing the federal law ERISA, but once relected in 2008 she never did anything and totally ernored the person, To find out the problems with ERISA go to youtube and see the video's by disabledvictim and learn how you or a loved one can become this laws next victim, because Congress won't fix it.

October 03 2010 at 6:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
catalogsplus

Frankly I would rather see this Dem Congress adjourned than in session at this point.

October 01 2010 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mikey

...Why go home before your work is done? Can our Congressmen and women actually listened to their constituants and make the tough decisions based on OUR needs instead of what's popular or dictated by their party or what sound bites THEY can use for their next election? This sordid lot we have in there now needs to know what we think of them by our votes. Wake up America!! We deserve a lot better than this!

October 01 2010 at 5:02 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
FRED

Why do the democrats hate the rich? Most of them are the rich and what is wrong with being fair in taxing? I am not rich but to tax the rich more than the poor is unfair and unethical. There should be a single tax rate for all Americans, and how about our deductions back? The dems took those away from us in the 80's when the Regan tax cuts came about, but now the tax rates are going up again, how about them back????

October 01 2010 at 6:10 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
FRED

Why do the democrats hate the rich? Most of them are the rich and what is wrong with being fair in taxing? I am not rich but to tax the rich more than the poor is unfair and unethical. There should be a single tax rate for all Americans, and how about our deductions back? The dems took those away from us in the 80's when the Regan tax cuts came about, but now the tax rates are going up again, how about them back????

October 01 2010 at 6:10 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
brookjax

We hail from Chicago, criminal class, where Capone was the man – yea he kicked some ass. We learned from the best and perfected his ways now we’re setting DC ablaze. Thanks to the press, the people bought our message of hope and change, now our goal’s in range. We told you we’re gonna spread your wealth around, Fortune 500 – up next for a shakedown. Lots of new policies we plan to debut, won’t recognize America when we get through. Don’t need a Constitution or the rule of law, we abuse our power using shock and awe. We’re the Gangsta Government! – We wear the crown, we call the shots and shake the people down. We’re the Gangsta Government! – Stay out of our way, Sit-down, shut-up, cuz you have no say.

October 01 2010 at 12:15 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
higgdj7

GOP is the problem and the quicker the people realize this, the better. I'm tired of waiting for the trickle down crumbs of the rich. When the GOP reigns in the power and influence of the corporations and start helping the working person, I'll go back to the Republican party. Boot the bums out.

September 30 2010 at 10:02 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to higgdj7's comment
hefie

Trickle down? That's quite the talking point...if you're in the 1980s.

October 03 2010 at 6:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jacquie

22 more days.....

September 30 2010 at 9:23 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
cleanburnjay

The Republicans really should not be an option for any thinking person. Every time they are in charge things get bad. But on not voting before leaving town to save their rear ends, the dems and Pelosi are dead wrong. A better speaker would be in order

September 30 2010 at 8:48 PM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply

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