Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was one of eight Republicans to vote against the final bill to come before the Republican-controlled 109th Congress in the early morning hours Saturday.
Graham noted that he supported many of the provisions in the $39.4 billion legislation. However, the bill came to the Senate without opportunity for amendments or changes plus the addition of a last-minute free trade pact with Haiti led him to vote against the bill. The vote was 79-9.
“I’ve grown tired of having to choose between a bad process and a few good provisions,” said Graham. “It was these kinds of actions – throwing everything in at the last minute but the kitchen sink – that got Republicans in trouble with the voters.”
“There are several pro-growth tax relief extensions in the bill including college tuition deductions, the new market tax credit, the work opportunity tax credit, and the welfare-to-work credit that are sound policy” said Graham. “In addition there was a provision that stopped a reduction in payments for physicians who treat Medicare patients.
“I wish I could have supported the bill, but I just don’t feel comfortable with some of the other provisions that were included or the process by which we were voting on the legislation,” said Graham.
Graham noted one provision he opposed – a free trade agreement with Haiti – was particularly unsettling. The provision was added to the catch-all even though it had never had a congressional hearing, never passed committee, or been subject to any other congressional action.
Instead it was inserted behind closed doors, passed by the House of Representatives, and sent to the Senate without any opportunity for changes.
Graham was able to secure an agreement from fellow Senators to have Congress revisit the Haiti trade provision next year and allow the textile community to have their say about the provision before it is certified by the President and implemented. However, the legislation still passed.
“We must be weary of new trade deals that could end up costing us more jobs,” said Graham. “I think the Haiti provision opens another door for China to illegally ship textiles into our country and further devastate the manufacturing community.”
“I was very disappointed with the way the session ended,” said Graham. “It’s sad to say but the final hours and actions of the Republican-controlled Congress were not a pretty sight.”