The House of Representatives voted today to extend the Bush tax cuts affecting individuals earning less than $200,000 annually and families earning less than $250,000. The vote was 234 to 188, mostly along party lines. Iowa Democrats Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell all voted for the bill, while Republicans Tom Latham and Steve King voted against it. If you click on the roll call, you might notice the vote was on a “Motion to Concur in the Senate Amendment with an Amendment” to the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part III. Adding the tax cut language to this vehicle, instead of introducing a new bill, was done to deny Republicans the chance to make a motion to recommit and attach the rest of the Bush tax cuts. David Waldman walks you through the House procedural weeds.
Only three House Republicans voted for this bill, which would permanently extend the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of filers. Every recent poll shows a minority want to extend the tax cuts for the top income levels. It’s disgusting that Republicans can’t accept even this bill, which gives more money back to wealthier people anyway.
The White House response to today’s vote was even more disgraceful:
“The President continues to believe that extending middle class tax cuts is the most important thing we can do for our economy right now and he applauds the House for passing a permanent extension. But, because Republicans have made it clear that they won’t pass a middle class extension without also extending tax cuts for the wealthy, the President has asked Director Lew and Secretary Geithner to work with Congress to find a way forward. Those discussions started just yesterday and are continuing this afternoon. The talks are ongoing and productive, but any reports that we are near a deal in the tax cuts negotiations are inaccurate and premature.”
Who still believes that Barack Obama wants to win this battle? He isn’t even trying. I wonder if he’s been planning to cave on this issue all along.
Meanwhile, the House passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 today by a vote of 264 to 157. All Iowa Democrats voted yes, as did Latham (one of just 17 Republicans to cross the aisle on this issue). King voted no, along with most of the Republican caucus. The Senate passed this bill by unanimous consent in August. It would improve the school lunch program and fund other child nutrition programs, but unfortunately food stamp funding was used to cover part of the cost. Senator Tom Harkin’s office summarized the bill’s provisions, and I’ve posted that statement after the jump. Referring to the food stamp funding, Harkin states, “President Obama, however, has committed to work with Congress to replace this offset before these SNAP [food stamp] cuts take place in November 2013.” I wouldn’t count on the president keeping that promise in light of today’s White House statement on tax cuts.
UPDATE: Senator Tom Harkin said on December 2 that if Obama caves on the Bush tax cuts, “He would then just be hoping and praying that Sarah Palin gets the nomination.”
Harkin/Woolsey: House Action on School Nutrition Bill Important Step Toward Historic School Nutrition Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-06) lauded today’s passage of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act by the House of Representatives by a vote of 264-157. In particular, they singled out praise for a provision that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to set nutrition standards for all foods sold on the grounds of schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, consistent with their jointly introduced legislation, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act. Harkin and Woolsey have introduced this legislation every Congress since 2006. Harkin has sought similar protections since the mid 1990s.
“For too long, we have allowed the unchecked sale of junk food in our schools to undermine not just the health of our kids, but also the desires of parents, and our taxpayer investment in school meals,” said Harkin. “House passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act moves us one step closer to requiring common-sense nutrition standards for the foods and beverages sold in schools. With this provision, the bill will help make the healthy choice, the easy choice. We also know that it’s the choice that parents around the country prefer. Survey after survey shows that parents support school nutrition standards at school that reinforce the healthy choices that parents try to make for their kids at home.”
“It’s been 30 years since the regulations limiting junk food sales in schools were updated, despite significant advances in nutrition science and a troubling growth in childhood obesity,” said Woolsey. “Updating the nutrition standards for foods sold in vending machines, a la carte lines, and school snack bars is a common sense way to confront childhood obesity head on.”
Under the terms of the provision, section 208, the Secretary of Agriculture is required to propose science-based school nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, including vending machines, snack bars, and school stores, not later than one year after enactment of the bill. Following a notice and comment period, the standards must go into effect not earlier than one year after the regulations are finalized. Under the terms of the legislation, the Secretary of Agriculture is also required to review and, if necessary, update the school nutrition standards after the publication of a new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
This fiscally responsible and bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act reauthorizes the nation’s major Federal child nutrition programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program. The bill provides $4.5 billion in additional funding over the next 10 years – nearly ten times the amount of money provided for the previous child nutrition reauthorization, and the largest new investment in child nutrition programs since their inception.
The bill is partially paid for by eliminating $2.2 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) temporary benefit increase under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. President Obama, however, has committed to work with Congress to replace this offset before these SNAP cuts take place in November 2013.