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East TN lawmakers deflect criticism for vacationing during fiscal cliff crisis

12:40 AM, Dec 28, 2012   |    comments
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The deadline is fast approaching for major tax hikes and spending cuts.

East Tennessee lawmakers are heading back to Washington D.C. Sunday for the final showdown to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

Both sides are playing the blame game and it sounds similar to what it did months ago.

"We are here in Washington working while members of the House of Representatives are out watching movies and watching their kids play soccer and basketball and doing all kinds of things. They should be here. They should be here urging the speaker," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Most members of the House are at home and that includes East Tennessee lawmakers: Rep. Phil Roe (R-1), Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-2), and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-3).

The House left D.C. for its holiday break with a crisis still unresolved.

"The reason the House adjourned was that we had done our job," said Roe.

"If we would have stayed, it just would have been for show because we can't do anything on this bill until the Senate does something," Duncan said.

"The House actually passed a bill that deals with the fiscal cliff sent it over to the Senate and it has sat there. We've basically done our job and now it's up to the Senate to act," said Fleischmann.

The representatives all say their frustration lies with the democratic controlled Senate.

Each says months ago the House passed two bills to avert the crisis: one to extend Bush Era tax cuts and another to deal with the one trillion dollars in automatic budget cuts set to begin on January 1st.

If Congress fails to reach a deal by the New Year, Congressman Roe says people across East Tennessee will feel the impact.

"Everybody's individual tax rates go up," Roe said.

Congressman Duncan downplays the deadline.

"Even if we don't reach an agreement by January 1st, we can reach an agreement a few days later and make everything, all the tax laws, retroactive to January 1st," Duncan said.

All three say they will be in Washington D.C. on Sunday, ready to deal with whatever comes their way.

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