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Virginia's Senators Waiting for 'Fiscal Cliff' Vote

If lawmakers fail to reach compromise, sequestration would hit Northern Virginia especially hard.

While the potential loss of thousands of jobs and a devastating economic blow loom over the region thanks to sequestration, Virginia's senators can only wait and hope a workable compromise is reached before the new year.

If such a compromise is not reached by Tuesday, a series of tax increases and spending reductions kick in automatically — taking the country over the so-called fiscal cliff. Some economists and politicians are concerned the combined effect will send the United States back into a recession. 

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D)  told CBS News this week that at this point any deal that could be made would be relatively small.

“I think there’s unfortunately only going to be a small deal,” Warner said. “… We have to realize it’s going to take revenues, spending cuts and entitlement reform.” Any deal lower than about $4 trillion is "kicking the can down the road," he said. (See video of his interview here.

Warner was one of six senators who were working to broker a deal to reduce the federal debt and raise revenue in 2011 and 2012. The last meeting of that group, which was joined by two additional senators to create a Gang of Eight, was at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in October.

In September, Warner spoke in Alexandria and suggested looking at military pay and health care as areas to cut spending, while admitting neither idea was popular. At the time, he called sequestration a "blunt instrument."

Democratic Sen.-elect Tim Kaine, who will take office in January, is likely to face the fiscal cliff or the predicted fallout from going over it as one of his first challenges.

In early December, Kaine was optimistic that Republicans and Democrats could come together and find a solution under deadline pressure.

Kaine told a Roanoke television station that he is going to Congress with three priorities: “tackling the nation's budget problems, accelerating the economy and searching for the common ground that used to exist between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.”

Kaine campaigned on working across the aisle with Republicans. “The biggest problem with our politics is that Congressional leaders don’t seek common ground to find solutions at a challenging time,” he says on his website.

Retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, whose term expires at the end of the year, told HamptonRoads.com this week, “I’m sitting here in the bleachers like everybody else.”

Webb was the only Senate Democrat to vote against both Democrat- and Republican-proposed income tax increases in July 2012. In a statement after that vote, Webb said he supports higher taxes if they are what he considers the "right kind" — taxes on passive income instead of earned income.

“My long belief has been that if we are going to raise taxes on income, that we ought to be doing so in the fairest place, and the fairest place is from passive income not earned income. Two-thirds of the money that is being made by the top 0.1 percent in this country — that’s 140,000 taxpayers — is being made from passive income. Capital gains and dividends are taxed at 15 percent, a much lower rate than ordinary income,” Webb said in that statement.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has asked House members to return to work on Sunday — less than 48 hours before the fiscal cliff deadline. It is not clear if House members will have anything on which to vote before Tuesday.

See also:

Fairfax Officials: Sequestration Would Impact Budget by Spring (December)

Rep. Moran: Sequestration Hinges on Outcome of Presidential Election (November)

McDonnell Warns of Looming Sequestration Cuts (October)

(September)

Kaine Talks Sequestration with Defense Contractors (August)

Greendayer December 29, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Why does Senator Warner want to cut military pay? There are other areas of the military to be looked at first, plus many other areas of general government spending. Increasing government give away programs while expecting the military to do the same job and take pay cuts to do it makes zero sense.
Michael December 29, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Noboby's proposing "increasing government give away programs" in this round of cuts. All the proposals are for cuts in social spending as well as in the military. I'm not necessarily in favor of cutting military pay but unless we're willing to look at the issue carefully we could end up wasting money of a knee-jerk reaction that says the answer to our security questions is simply to throw more money at them.
Mike Jewell December 30, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Well said!
Bob Bruhns December 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM
It is ridiculous how little our troops are paid. Don't keep sending our troops out in hopeless wars that are only getting them maimed and killed, and causing Iraq to join with Iran, etc, and then decide to cut costs by reducing their pay to even more absurdly low levels. Bring them home, and let's all rebuild THIS nation. I'm pretty sure our so-called 'leaders' in Congress know that we have to raise taxes and cut spending. DUH!!! 16 trillion in national debt? Hello?????? But as in other countries now, and throughout history, the people do not like the idea of paying for what they are sold. So our political parties are playing games promising miracles and free money, but they only deliver more debt and problems - how many times have we seen this? And yet the people vote for this blindly. I think we are lucky that our elected clowns could not come to yet another overspending agreement. We will do better if they spend the next five years blaming each other (it's their only tactic), while we stop fooling around and start paying this debt down.
Java Master January 01, 2013 at 03:36 AM
If you wish to engage in foreign wars to spread American Exceptionalism, then find a way to pay for them. If you want deep industry tax breaks, special interest subsidies and fat defense/homeland security contracts, pay for them. If you want a cornucopia of societal and individual benefits, please pay up. And deficits do matter--V.P. Cheney was dead wrong on that score. Everyone complains about the size and cost of government, but no one wants to have their particular ox gored.

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