Local lawmakers from both parties supported approved “fiscal cliff” deal

The U.S. House has passed the Senate’s proposal to prevent the country from careening off the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Before the House vote, local lawmakers from both parties spoke up in favor of the deal.

The agreement raises taxes on individuals making more than $400,000, and couples making over $450,000. It temporarily puts off across-the-board spending cuts.

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Philadelphia) took to the House floor to urge his colleagues to pass it.

“We have to come together,” said Fattah. “When we can have a bipartisan vote of 89 senators … we should rally behind that.”

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The approved measure also stops members of Congress from getting a raise. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks County) agreed that lawmakers should not receive a raise. Neither should most federal employees, he said.

“We’re not trying to punish or force unnecessary hardship on civil servants. But taxpayers should not be taking home less than federal workers,” said Fitzpatrick. “Recent studies have shown that the average federal worker earns 20 percent more than a private worker in a similar position.”

While avoiding income tax hikes for most, the deal allows Social Security taxes, which have been lowered temporarily by 2 percentage points, to go back to 2010 levels.

When the Senate voted early Tuesday morning, even many conservative Republicans such as Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey voted for the deal. Toomey said he wasn’t happy about raising taxes for wealthy Americans. But he said an agreement without any tax hikes faced “no chance.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), who voted for the deal, also said it isn’t perfect. He was hoping for a higher estate tax. Under the legislation, the tax rate would be 40 percent for inheritances over $5 million.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) was one of eight senators to vote against the agreement. Carper released a statement saying the legislation didn’t sufficiently safeguard Medicare and Social Security or bring in significant new revenues.

This post was updated to include more information.

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