WASHINGTON — House Republicans are signaling that the “fiscal cliff” legislation passed by the Senate early Tuesday isn’t going anywhere until more spending cuts are included in the bill.
“It was way past those senators bed time and they were blurry-eyed when they were reading it, so we’re trying to fill in the gap where they may have missed a few things,” Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia said Tuesday afternoon after leaving a meeting of the Republican Conference in the capitol.
“Our sense, at least in the House, was that a number of the Republicans who voted for it must have been drunk because it really was a number that wasn’t reflective of where we thought some of these people were gonna be in a bill like this,” said Rep. Steven LaTourette of Ohio, only partly joking.
In an attempt to avert the automatic tax increases for all taxpayers this year, senators rang in 2013 by passing legislation that extended tax breaks for individuals making less than $400,000 per year, and couples making less than $450,000 a year.
The bill also tackles the alternative minimum tax, preventing it from hitting the middle class, as well as the estate tax. It pushes the sequester back two months, and contains offsets to compensate for that.
But their Republican colleagues across the capitol made it clear on Tuesday that the bill does not include enough spending cuts relative to the tax increases.
“As you know, we’ve been very clear about spending cuts are very, very important and we’re very disappointed that the Senate has punted on the Senate cuts,” Kingston said.
“There’s a lot of discontent in the room at the moment,” said LaTourette, adding later that the “overwhelming sentiment was that we needed to at least attempt to address spending.”
“The discussion was, there are some good things in this bill. As a Republican, the fact that you could lock in permanently things on the alternative minimum tax and estate tax and dividends and rates are good things,” LaTourette said. “The fact that you could fix the dairy problem for a short run are good things.”
“The bad part — and now it’s a balancing act — is that it increases spending and doesn’t do anything to help us with our debt and our deficit,” he said. “So that’s the box we find ourselves in.”
Several Republicans said they expected they would amend the bill and send it back to the Senate.
Alabama Rep. Spencer Bachus told reporters Tuesday that he predicts the House will send it back to the Senate, with some spending cuts.
“I would be shocked if this bill doesn’t go back to the Senate,” he said.
“There’s going to have to be some changes to the bill in respect to spending,” Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas said.