OGDEN — Utah’s House delegation voted 3-0 Tuesday against the Senate bill that prevented the nation from going over the fiscal cliff.
Utah Congressmen Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz and Jim Matheson all cast dissenting votes on the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, all citing overspending issues as the reason for their nay votes.
The bill was ultimately passed by a 257-167 vote.
Bishop said there were some good things about the bill, like the fact that taxes will be reduced for most Americans and that the alternative minimum tax and death tax rates were made permanent, but the bill ultimately avoided real spending cuts.
Most importantly for the Top of Utah, Bishop said, the bill did nothing for the impending Department of Defense sequestration, which would cut spending for the military and could result in furloughs of civilian DoD employees.
“They just kicked it (sequestration) down the road for two months,” he said. “I have no confidence that the administration or the Senate are serious about coming back and really solving this military funding problem.”
Matheson said he voted no because the bill fell short of including a strong framework for real deficit reduction.
“Without a serious mechanism to curb spending and put our country on a fiscally sustainable path, I couldn’t support it,” he said. “As it stands, this isn’t a solution to the nation’s fiscal woes that prompted the whole discussion of the fiscal cliff.”
Chaffetz, falling in line with the spending theme, said the government has to first cut spending to fix its problems and, based on that logic, he couldn’t vote for the bill.
“Without substantial, real first-year cuts in spending, I couldn’t vote for the bill passed by the Senate,” he said.
The Senate voted on the bill Monday, passing it by a vote of 89-8.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, voted in favor of the bill, while Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, voted against it.
Hatch, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said he reluctantly supported the bill because it sets in stone lower tax rates for most American taxpayers.
“This isn’t legislation I would have written, and it is far from perfect,” he said. “But this is the best course of action we can take to protect as many people as possible from massive tax hikes.”
Hatch said government must still reduce federal spending to cut a more than $16 trillion in national debt, which Hatch said is being fueled by broken entitlement programs.