With major reservations, Murray votes for tax package

By:  Kathie Durbin, Columbian staff writer
Source: The Columbian

Both of Washington’s U.S. senators voted for President Obama’s $858 billion tax package Wednesday, but U.S. Sen. Patty Murray vowed to work for the massive bill’s repeal “as soon as possible.”

Murray, newly appointed chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee for the 2012 elections, called the bill President Obama negotiated with Senate and House Republicans “irresponsible, selfish, and wrong.”

“While Democrats offered plans to extend middle-class tax cuts for more than 98 percent of all Americans,” Republican congressional leaders refused to support those plans, she said.

“Quite simply, they were willing to play a massive game of chicken with the American people and let all the tax cuts expire unless they got billions of dollars to funnel back to their wealthy corporate backers,” Murray said in a fund-raising missive sent shortly after the Senate passed the tax package on an 81-19 vote.

“At the end of the day, I voted for this tax package to protect middle-class families from a tax hike while extending unemployment benefits for 13 months, continuing the sales tax deduction, cutting payroll taxes, and doing everything we can to create jobs,” she said. “But it came at tremendous cost.”

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell also voted for the bill, which included what she considered “critical” language extending clean energy grants. Extension of the grant program, which provides cash in lieu of existing tax credits for renewable energy projects, was not in the tax package deal negotiated between President Obama and the GOP leadership, but was added at the urging of a group of senators including Cantwell.

“We’re calling it the most significant addition by the Senate to the bill that was negotiated by the White House,” said Cantwell’s spokesman, John Diamond.

The grant program has been a key factor in the development of wind farms in Washington and Oregon. The program’s expiration “would mean the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the wind and solar energy industries and cause billions of dollars of clean energy projects to be mothballed,” Cantwell warned in a statement last week.