The U.S. House of Representatives easily approved a bipartisan budget agreement yesterday that, as advertised, would prevent a potential government shutdown for the next two years.
Despite the House voting in favor of the bill by an "overwhelming margin," if the vote were left to Arizona's nine House members, it would have failed.
Arizona Democrats Ann Kirkpatrick, Ron Barber, Ed Pastor, and Kyrsten Sinema voted for the bill. Republicans Trent Franks, David Schweikert, Paul Gosar, and Matt Salmon, as well as Democrat Raul Grijalva voted against it.
A vote of 5-4 against the bill is quite different than the collective House vote of 332-94 in favor of it.
Those same four Republicans also voted against ending the government shutdown that actually happened this fall, while Grijalva was on the other side for that one.
Perhaps if yesterday's budget deal really were up to Arizona's delegation, the vote would've gone a little differently when push came to shove. However, people don't really elect congressmen hoping they go to Washington to engage in showmanship.
Below, read comments from some of the congressmen's offices on their votes against the budget deal.
"The best way to help the American people is to create jobs and get more families back into this economy, and this deal doesn't do that," Grijalva said. "I don't see enough here that helps the people I represent. This package doesn't help people looking for jobs, it doesn't help people wondering what they're supposed to do when their unemployment insurance is cut off, and it doesn't create any new opportunities for working Americans. It used the flawed Budget Control Act as its starting point, and that meant the finished product wasn't strong enough to earn my support."
The sequester portion of the Budget Control Act passed in 2011 included a reduction in payment rates to Medicare health care providers that would have expired in 2021. Last night's budget deal extends those cuts to fiscal years 2022 and 2023. It also postpones, but does not eliminate, certain scheduled cuts to future budget years' federal education and job creation funding. Other cuts will go forward on schedule.
In addition to ignoring the impending end of unemployment insurance benefits for approximately 1.3 million Americans later this month, the deal falls well short of necessarily funding levels for major programs that help Southern Arizonans, Grijalva pointed out. The graph at the right shows how far below historical funding levels this deal falls given its overall $1.012 trillion spending level for 2014 - more than half of which ($520.5 billion) will be spent on the military.
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"Unfortunately, while the proposal features a number of small steps in the right direction, the overall effect is still one of increased spending for the next two years, raising user fees, and again delaying the difficult, but necessary decisions we will ultimately need to make to save our nation from the budgetary issues that threaten to destroy our nation from within unlike any military force could do. Any savings as a result of this proposal are based on the assumption that, 'We will continue to overspend for only a few more years. THEN we'll really get serious.' The unfortunate reality, as we all know, is that the overspending continues, but the agreed upon belt-tightening never seems to occur."
". . . for me and most of the constituents I have heard from in my district, this deal falls short of something I could support.
"Unfortunately, this deal fails to even make modest reforms to our nearly bankrupted entitlement programs and it, once again, increases government spending in the short-term with only a promise to make spending cuts in the long-term.
"If we are not willing to make tough choices now, then how can we expect future Congresses to stop kicking the can down the road?
"This was a grand opportunity for our nation's leaders to reform and preserve the fiscal longevity of our entitlement programs, and this deal does not rise to that challenge.
"Furthermore, I have never believed that Congress should raise taxes or increase fees to justify more government spending. Sadly, this deal does exactly this by raising fees on air travelers.