8 Senators Who Voted Against the Fiscal Cliff Deal, and Why

1) Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)


Sen. Bennet has decided the deal does not go far enough to reduce the deficit. In a statement released Tuesday:

“Washington once again has lived up to its reputation as the 'Land of Flickering Lights.' For four years in my townhall meetings across the state Coloradans have told me they want a plan that materially reduces the deficit. This proposal does not meet that standard and does not put in place a real process to reduce the debt down the road.”

Bennet created his own plan to avert the fiscal cliff with Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander in November which “pushes the pause button on all the elements of the fiscal cliff,” giving Congress and the White House more time to reach a conclusion on the deal.

2) Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)


Sen. Carper appears to have withheld because the final bill contained neither entitlement reform or significantly increased revenue, and took a shot at the White House for agreeing to a deal without either.

On Tuesday, Carper said “…the purpose of this so-called 'fiscal cliff' was to force our hand to come up with a grand bargain to get our nation's fiscal house in order and make the tough decisions that we, as legislators, are expected to make. Unfortunately, the deal the Senate passed this morning is not the grand bargain that I, and many of us, had hoped for, and that's why I ultimately voted against it ... I'm afraid that we've just wasted a doozie at a time when our President's bargaining power was at its zenith.”

3) Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)


Grassley is a hard-liner who called the deal a “fiscal farce” which did not do enough to address the deficit (particularly criticizing the lack of cuts).

“It’d be one thing to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, but that’s not what this deal does. It’s a fiscal farce to raise taxes and hurt economic growth only to fuel more government spending with record deficits and debt. People at the grass roots want Washington to spend less, not more. Failure to deal with spending lets them down. Spending restraint ought to be more than a wishful new year’s resolution with no way to be certain it’s kept.”

4) Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)


Harkin criticized the House for not taking up the Senate-passed legislation to let the Bush tax cuts expire for all individuals making less than $250,000, and repeatedly emphasized that the deal locked in low taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

“Instead, we find ourselves voting on an agreement that fails to address our number one priority – creating good, middle class jobs in Iowa and throughout the country... In essence, this agreement locks in a tax structure that is grossly unfair to middle class Americans, one which provides permanent tax assistance to wealthy Americans, and only temporary relief to everyone else. Every dollar that wealthy taxpayers do not pay under this deal, we will eventually ask Americans of modest means to forgo in Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.”

5) Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)


Lee criticized the president’s Sunday news appearance in which Obama blamed Republicans for stonewalling fiscal cliff negotiations, saying “I suspect the president regrets saying” that Republicans are only interested in protecting the low tax rates of the wealthiest Americans.

6) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)


The least surprising "no" on the list, Paul is an ardently anti-spending libertarian who could probably not be coaxed into voting for any balanced bill, preferring extensive cuts in government expenditures rather than raising any new revenue. He called the resolution a “spending bill,” explaining:

“I object to increasing spending and increasing taxes. That’s really the real deal killer for me. If it were just taxrates, and you told me I had the choice of protecting 99%, I would vote … for that. Once Democrats sign on board in the House, it should pass as well.”


7) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)


Rubio said Tuesday he could not support the bill because it would hurt the economic recovery. Rubio criticized the resolution for adding $4 trillion to the debt (a reference to the Senate plan which let all tax cuts expire at once, raising significantly more in revenue.) He furthermore lambasted the plan for not reducing the deficit significantly.

“Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they'll pay this new tax and, chances are, they'll do it by firing employees, cutting back their hours and benefits, or postponing the new hire they were looking to make. And to make matters worse, it does nothing to bring our dangerous debt under control.”

8) Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)


Shelby had ominous words for members of Congress who voted in favor of the resolution, calling it a “bad mistake” and stating “the ones that voted for it, I think they will rue the day.” The senator’s statement is a clear attack on House GOP members who will be facing aggressive primary challenges from the right in coming years.


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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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