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Did area GOP congressmen violate vow?

Manzullo, Kinzinger back tax-hike legislation

Nearly all Republican members of Congress, including those from northwestern Illinois, vowed to never raise taxes. On Tuesday, many of them arguably violated their pledge.

Eighty-five of 236 Republicans in the House, including Don Manzullo of Egan and Adam Kinzinger of Channahon, supported the legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff. The measure increased taxes for individuals making more than $400,000 a year and households making more than $450,000 a year.

It was the first time in 20 years that any Republicans in the House or Senate voted for increasing income tax rates.

President Barack Obama said he wanted to extend the Bush tax cuts for Americans who make less than $250,000 a year, but he pushed for raising taxes on the rich.

Manzullo, who was elected in 1992 and represents parts of Whiteside County, backed the compromise. His spokesman, Rich Carter, said Wednesday that his boss didn’t see his vote as increasing taxes.

“We kept taxes from increasing on all Americans,” Carter said. “They [House members] were in an awful position. He [Manzullo] couldn’t fathom the possibility that millions of Americans would pay thousands more in taxes.”

Bobby Schilling, R-Coloma, who represents parts of Whiteside County, voted against the compromise. His office numbers have been disconnected.

Manzullo and Schilling, both of whom lost their bids for re-election, leave office today.

The influential group, Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist, has convinced nearly every Republican House member, including all from northwestern Illinois, to sign its no-tax-increases pledge.

Norquist’s group argued Wednesday that members such as Manzullo and Kinzinger didn’t violate the pledge, saying the new higher tax rates took effect for a while Tuesday before the House and Senate passed the fiscal cliff compromise. Voting for the measure, the group contended, effectively reduced rates for nearly all taxpayers.

It also said members rejecting the measure complied with the pledge, too, because they weren’t obligated to vote for tax relief, only to reject tax hikes.

Kinzinger, whose district will include Dixon when his new term starts today, defended his vote Tuesday.

“I supported legislation to avert the fiscal cliff with reservations,” he said in a statement. “While [the legislation] provides permanent tax relief for millions of families and small businesses, it fails to include necessary spending cuts.”

Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, whose district includes Dixon until today, voted against the compromise, saying he did so because of the lack of spending cuts.

“Washington, D.C., has a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” he said in a statement. “This package fails to address that. In fact, it makes the $16 trillion debt and trillion dollar deficit even worse.”

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