For Rep. Danny K. Davis, Illinois Democrat, the “fiscal cliff” fight came down to one thing: the unemployment checks the government will still be able to send to thousands of his constituents.
“When I go to church on Sunday, I know that I will see people with the assurance that pretty soon an unemployment check is in the mail,” he said.
Mr. Davis said he’d come to the floor Tuesday after speaking with two constituents who’d called his office begging him to vote against the cliff deal, which extended tax cuts for most Americans, allowed rates to rise for the wealthiest and included $330 billion in other new spending such as the expanded unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.
He told those constituents the unemployment benefits were too critical to too many Illinois residents for him to vote no.
Every lawmaker brought those kinds of stories to his or her vote on Tuesday.
For Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican who voted against the legislation, there was a slight victory even in his defeat: “I just wanted to thank so many on the other side after all these years for finally acknowledging publicly that 98 percent of the Bush tax cuts helped the middle class.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell, New Jersey Democrat, who voted for the bill, pointed to low-income Americans who will continue to get a higher Earned Income Tax Credit from the federal government — including, he said, 563,000 New Jersey families, who will average more than $2,100 in payments.