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Casey, Toomey vote 'yes' on fiscal deal

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 11:58 p.m.

Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators voted to approve the “fiscal cliff” tax compromise early Tuesday.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, called the deal “far from perfect” but said “the Senate took the appropriate steps to protect the middle class and keep in place common sense measures” to keep the economy on track.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh County, said he voted to keep 99 percent of taxpayers from a large tax increase.

“One of my top priorities since coming to Congress has been to pursue policies that maximize economic growth and job creation. Lower taxes do both,” he said in a statement.

Pittsburgh-area Democrats looked favorably at the bill. Republicans remained tight-lipped through several meetings Tuesday afternoon and evening.

The Senate passed the bill, 89-8, in the early morning hours of New Year's Day to extend the Bush-era income tax cuts for taxpayers making less than $400,000 a year individually or $450,000 a year as a family.

For those above that level, the tax rate would rise to 39.6 percent. The bill postponed automatic spending cuts by two months so lawmakers could make more deliberate spending reductions.

The measure then went to the Republican-controlled House for a vote.

Congress missed the Jan. 1 midnight deadline to stop automatic tax increases and spending cuts, but Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said economic effects weren't felt because banks and stock exchanges were closed for New Year's Day.

Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, in one of his final votes before he leaves office, described the Senate package as “a good compromise agreement, if a little bit late.”

Staffs for Reps. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair; Mike Kelly, R-Butler; and Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, each said there would be no comment until after the House vote.

Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, who lost in the general election to Keith Rothfus, could not be reached.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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