Indiana News

House Republicans Plan Fiscal Cliff Amendments As Clock Ticks Down


House Republicans plan to craft a counteroffer to the Senate's fiscal cliff package, as the deadline for a deal ticks down.

Third District Congressman Marlin Stutzman was among the first Hoosier voices to slam the Senate plan, announcing even before a G-O-P caucus that he'd vote against it. Leaders emerged at mid-afternoon to say they'd amend the bill, forcing the Senate to vote again on the changes. Stutzman says he and other Republicans can't accept the lack of spending cuts in the Senate-passed bill to accompany an increase in taxes on people making more than 450-thousand dollars a year.

And Stutzman complains the Senate bill extends some targeted tax breaks for biofuels, energy efficiency, and other incentives contained in the 2009 stimulus bill. He labels those measures "pork" and says Congress can't control the national debt without controlling spending.

Technically, the country went over the fiscal cliff with the new year, a couple of hours before the Senate passed its bill. But financial markets are closed for the holiday, and any fiscal-cliff bill is certain to be retroactive to January 1. Congress faces a more inflexible deadline, however: its term ends at noon Thursday, as departing members leave office and the newly elected Congress is sworn in. If the House and Senate haven't reached agreement by then, they'll have to start from scratch.

If there's no deal, across-the-board tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush expire, raising rates on all taxpayers. The Senate bill limits the increase to the wealthiest taxpayers, though the 450-thousand-dollar threshold is higher than President Obama has called for.

The Senate version also extends long-term unemployment insurance and puts off automatic cuts in military and other domestic spending.

Indiana Republicans Dan Coats and Richard Lugar voted for the bill in the Senate. Five Republicans and three Democrats voted no.


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