Staffers for the lawmakers say they were a bit surprised to have the time off as the nation approaches a major budget deadline.
“He was prepared to work through the holiday,” said Marshall Macomber, chief of staff for Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks.
Congress has until Dec. 31 to pass some sort of long- term plan for deficit reduction. If they fail to reach an agreement, a set of pre-planned tax-hikes and automatic spending cuts kicks in. It’s all the result of a deal Republicans and Democrats made back in 2011, when Congress was at an impasse over raising the debt ceiling.
Negotiations over the fiscal cliff fell apart Thursday, when Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to line up behind a plan promoted by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Boehner’s plan spared all earners from tax increases except those earning more than $1 million per year.
The House adjourned after the deal failed, leaving Alabama’s lawmakers with a vacation they never expected. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, had already been planning to celebrate Christmas in Washington, but will return to Alabama instead.
“There’s nothing on Rep. Roby’s schedule in Alabama for the next week,” said Todd Stacy, Roby’s spokesman. “She was planning to be here.”
Rogers will return to Anniston this weekend, Macomber said. Staffers for Reps. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, and Jo Bonner, R- Mobile, said their bosses would leave for Alabama soon, as well. All said that House leadership had asked them to be ready to return with 48 hours notice, and all expected House members to be back in D.C. next week, after the holiday.
All were careful to point out that their legislators were more than willing to stay and work out a solution, if asked.
Both parties and the Pentagon have warned that automatic cuts would be dire for defense, and Alabama delegates have warned of serious consequences for the state’s military facilities. But the Pentagon has released few details on how those cuts would unfold.
Capitol & statewide correspondent: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.