The New Year is just more than a week old, and there already have been some big moves made in Washington.
Last week, the House of Representatives made high-profile decisions on the so-called fiscal cliff deal and a bill to give aide to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, voted against the cliff deal because he said it allows tax increases for many families and small businesses, while it neglects the nation's debt.
Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, was one of 85 Republicans in the House to vote for the bill. Recently re-elected Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined 89 other senators to vote yes on the bill.
"Besides making permanent the tax rates for singles at $400,000 and for married couples at $450,000, this bill will prevent 26 million Americans from paying the Alternative Minimum Tax and helps our small businesses and farmers by keeping the death tax exemption level at $5 million," Latta said in an official statement on the fiscal cliff. "In addition to extending permanent tax relief for small businesses and middle class families, I am pleased to see the bill included an extension of the farm bill, which will prevent current law from allowing milk prices to skyrocket, as well as repealing the pay increase for members of Congress and White House staff.
"Our first step to avoiding the fiscal cliff has been taken, but in order to achieve a truly balanced approach and put our economy back on the path to prosperity, we must work towards comprehensive tax reform, reducing our deficit, and cut the out-of-control spending that is occurring in Washington."
The deal also included extending unemployment insurance for a year and reviving an inheritance tax exemption for estates of less than $5 million.
The most notable omissions in the deal agreed upon on New Year's Day are the debt ceiling and sequestration (across-the-board spending cuts). Congress has two months to work out a deal to determine the fate of the nation's debt.
"We are mortgaging our kids' and our grandkids' future, saddling them with this huge debt," Jordan said. "We can't just keep putting it off, and the so-called fiscal cliff deal failed to address the underlying spending problem, not to mention it allowed tax increases for certain Americans. When you don't address the debt problem, you reduce any spending and you allow tax increase on some of our job creators, that's not a recipe for economic growth. So that's why I was opposed to (the deal)."
Jordan said the best solution to the nation's debt problem is to cut spending.
"We've got to stop the madness," he said. "This is the equivalent of the 18 year-old who gets a credit card and maxes it out. First thing you do is cut up the credit card and put him on a budget. Instead, what the president wants to do is he wants a new credit card, and they never even want to do a budget."
President Barack Obama has said in a press conference, he will not negotiate about the debt ceiling because he does not want to use the nation's borrowing cap as a bargaining tool.
"It's just unfortunate," Jordan said. "Here's the president who has presided over the four largest annual deficits in American history. Here's the president, who has during his time in the White House, has seen the national debt grow by $5 trillion. So maybe if you were president and you presided over that debt, you wouldn't want to talk about cutting spending and the debt ceiling either."
Jordan said Congress should not put together a deal to help Washington, and it needs to come up with a deal with the best interest of America in mind.
"This last (deal) was like so many others," he said. "Washington got more of your tax money and they promised to cut spending in the future. Washington is saying give us more ability to borrow money, and we promise to cut spending in the future. It's just Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football. They always get the revenue now and they promise spending cuts later, but the spending cuts never arrive. It's always pull the football right from under Charlie Brown every time."
The other big issue that faced Washington last week was the bill to provide aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Initially Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, tabled the legislation, but after facing scrutiny, he allowed a vote on $9.7 billion of the total $60 billion the bill originally sought.
The bill, allowing FEMA to pay claims to those who held federal flood insurance, was approved in the House 354-67, and it passed unanimously in the Senate.
Jordan was one of the 67 representatives (all Republicans) to vote no on the bill, and Latta and voted yes. The remaining $51 billion of the bill is to be voted Jan. 15.
"Obviously we want to help people on the East Coast, who were hurt by this hurricane, but we should pay for it," Jordan said. "We shouldn't just borrow more money. If we can't cut spending elsewhere in the budget to offset the money that needs to go families who were hurt by this hurricane, if we can't do that we're never going to deal with this problem.
"I voted against the legislation because we didn't pay for it, we didn't offset it, we didn't cut money in other parts of government to pay for giving disaster relief to the families it impacted. I'm all for helping them, but we've got to pay for it. We've got to cut spending elsewhere in the government, so to me that was the biggest problem. I think that's what (Boehner) was trying to make sure, (that) we did this right."
Boehner was re-elected Speaker of the House last week, but Jordan also received a vote for speaker. Jordan said he was surprised he got a vote, but has no desire to be speaker.