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Meadows ties no vote to military retiree pay

Mark Meadows Mark Meadows

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows voted no on the bipartisan budget deal that extends government funding through 2015 and removes the threat of a government shutdown.


Meadows, the freshman Republican representing Western North Carolina, joined 63 other Republicans in voting no as the bill passed 332-94. It next goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
The budget deal announced this week by House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray sets government spending at $1.012 trillion for the fiscal year that runs through September and reduces the deficit by more than $20 billion.

 

Meadows said in an interview with the Hendersonville Lightning he voted in part because the bill does nothing to fix Medicare and Social Security longterm and because it disproportionately trims pension for military retirees.

“It was a tough call,” he said. “We sent out a survey to most of the district and the responses that were coming back were pretty much 50-50.”

“Probably the biggest thing for me was I weighed the pros and cons. The pros is that it gives business some certainty. I have a lot of respect for Paul Ryan and the work that he did."

Meadows said he made the decision less on ideological grounds than on his concern that the bipartisan budget compromise penalizes military retirees.

“It really puts off for two years doing anything to save Medicare and Social Security,” he said. “The other factor was that late yesterday we started getting calls from the district as details got out about retirement for our military people. Military retirees took a disproportionate hit in how to pay for this. Instead of making across-the-board cuts for all federal employees, the military and some civilian services singled out and I represent a district that has the largest percentage of retired military people in North Carolina.”

Some Republicans, he said, urged him to vote for the bill.

“A lot of them wanted me to vote for it so they could say I voted along and it was a sign of endorsement,” he said.

He said the no votes did not come from a single segment of the party. Although no votes were common among the large freshman class elected in 2012, Republicans in districts with military bases or ports generally voted yes.

“It really got down to folks with heavy military bases and the appropriators were pushing for it as well because they wanted to be able to really direct the spending,” he said.

One argument Republican leaders made was that the pattern of continuing resolutions — approving budgets created more than a year ago without looking at cuts — had the effect of advancing the policies of President Obama and Senate leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

In general the voting “was more of a function of what your district is all about, and frankly I wanted to save what influence I might have for the farm bill that will be coming up in January,” he said.

Meadows has joined “a small working group” in the House “working very diligently to address some of the immigration issues.”

“There’s seven or eight of us that met last week to really come up with a bipartisan solution,” he said, although he does not expect that to be part of the farm bill.

The House will likely ignore the comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Senate passed “primarily because amnesty is a killer for so many,” he said. “De facto amnesty in the Senate bill is a non-starter in the House.”
He said he wants to craft a bill that is “fair and compassionate but also provides the needs for our agricultural community.”

Supported by House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican leadership, the compromise deal drew strong criticism from conservative groups, who said it allows too much spending and does nothing to block funding of the Affordable Care Act.
In response, Boehner delivered his strongest public rebuke yet to the right wing of the party. Asked about groups that had issued condemnations of the package as Ryan and Murray announced it, the speaker responded. "You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it? ... They're using our members and they're using the American people for their own goals," he said during a news conference. "This is ridiculous."
Besides Meadows, members of North Carolina's delegation voting no were Republicans Walter Jones and George Holding and Democrat Mike McIntyre. Voting yes were Republicans Patrick McHenry, Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx, Howard Coble, Richard Hudson and Robert Pittenger and Democrat G.K. Butterfield.