Tenn. lawmaker explains possible future of fiscal cliff deal

Tenn. lawmaker explains possible future of fiscal cliff deal

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By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Lawmakers in Washington spent their New Year's Day negotiating a plan to avoid, or at least delay, the impact of the fiscal cliff. Technically the nation went over the edge at midnight but the Senate approved an agreement in the wee hours of the morning. That measure still needs House approval.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle held hours of meetings through the day.

Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said democrats expected House Speaker John Boehner to allow the house to vote. Boehner has said the house will vote on the senate measure or amend it. Number two republican Eric Cantor said Tuesday he does not support the agreement saying he's looking for the best path forward and that no decisions had been made. If house republicans tack on amendments the measure would have to go back to the senate.

The question tonight, can backers of the compromise marshal enough republican support to push it through the house it its current form? We wanted to know where lawmakers from Tennessee stand.

6 News spoke with Congressman Phil Roe. He does not believe there are enough votes in the house for the Senate's bill to pass. The sticking point, the Senate's bill does not address the automatic cuts in federal spending that are supposed to happen. The bill delays the spending cut topic for two months. Congressman Roe says government spending is the problem and House republicans want it addressed now.

Congressman Phil Roe says house republicans have spent hours in conference going over the pros and cons of the Senate's bill.

"What do we like that we've been able to decipher so far? Part of it is making permanent the 2001, 2003 Bush tax cuts for everyone except individuals that make over $400,000 and individuals who make above $450,000," said Congressman Roe.

With the bill, individuals who make over $400,000 and families making more than $450,000 will see their income tax rate rise from 35 to 39.6 percent. Tax rates for everyone else would stay the same as 2012 levels. Roe says the sticking point is the lack of spending cuts.

"The bad part is the spending in here there's absolutely no spending cuts whatsoever that was the hang up in our conference," said Congressman Roe.

He says many house republicans aren't please with waiting two months to address the issue of spending cuts.

"The tax increases for families over $450,000 will raise some revenue but it won't solve the problem. The problem is we spend $1.2 trillion we have every year since the four years I've been in this House," said Congressman Roe.

Roe says the House may amend the already amended Senate bill to add specific cuts in government spending then take a vote.

Roe says with specific cuts added, an amended bill may get the 218 votes required to pass the House.

"I think it will be up in the wee hours if we vote tonight, could be a vote tomorrow," said Congressman Roe.

6 News has been on the phone with both Congressman Chuck Fleischmann's office and Congressman Jimmy Duncan. Both congressmen hope to see government spending addressed in an amended bill.

Last night's Senate agreement would keep current tax rates for families earning less than $450,000. It also delays spending cuts for defense and domestic programs by two months. Lawmakers have until Thursday to get a final agreement, that's when the next congress is sworn in. Without an agreement, the process would have to start over.

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