>>STARK SITS OUT NEW YEAR’S BUDGET VOTE
>>”Quite frankly, this is a do-nothing Republican congress.”
|Rep. Barbara Lee|
CONGRESS | Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee, long a supporter of extending unemployment insurance to the jobless in her district, got her wish New Year’s Day, but said the bill passed by House Democrats and Republicans ending the so-called “fiscal cliff,” for now, is “far from perfect.”
The bill averted potentially steep hike in taxes for all Americans. However, Congress pushed decisions on budget sequestering and the federal debt limit into the first months of 2013.
“I am pleased that a budget agreement has been reached between our President and the Congress that will keep our most vulnerable from falling of the ‘human cliff.’” Lee said Tuesday night, following the vote.
Lee, also a member of the budget committee, cautioned against further budget decisions that could affect the poor. “I remain deeply concerned regarding the impact of potential cuts on communities of color and other vulnerable populations in the ongoing negotiations on sequestration and the debt ceiling, despite the two month extension.”
As one of the most progressive members of Congress, Lee, like other on the left found problems with the deal, notably increasing the threshold for raising taxes on Americans making more than $250,000 to $450,000. Lee called the bill passed late Tuesday, “less than perfect,” but nonetheless voted for it. A day earlier, while appearing on MSNBC, Lee targeted Republicans for styming a conclusion on the bill until the last minute. “Quite frankly,” she said, “this is a do-nothing Republican congress.”
The East Bay’s other progressive congress member, Rep. Pete Stark, however, failed to register a vote. Stark, who was defeated by Rep.-elect Eric Swalwell last November, was one of three members of the California Congressional caucus who did not participate in the vote.
The others include, Rep. Lynn Woolsey and Rep. Jerry Lewis, who announced their retirements last year. One report said Woolsey’s Santa Rosa office had already disconnected its phone lines, as of Dec. 27.
Stark, in fact, seems to have already hung up his legislative cleats for the entire month of December and did not participate in budget deliberations. His 40-year reign in Congress ends today. Swalwell will be sworn-in with 84 other freshman representatives on Thursday.