Vancouver, Wash. — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi, in Vancouver to speak to the local Tea Party organization, said he still opposes a $26 billion bill pushed toward passage by his Democratic opponent Wednesday that will save Washington jobs and stave off deep budget cuts over the next 11 months.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray helped lead an effort to overcome a Republican filibuster and win Senate passage of the measure, which advocates say will stop the layoff of nearly 300,000 public employees. The bill, which is expected to win final passage in the House and Senate next week, would provide $16 billion to states to help pay their medical bills and $20 billion to schools to forestall teacher layoffs this year.
It’s expected to save the jobs of more than 6,400 Washington teachers, police officers and firefighters, according to the Washington State Democratic Party.
In June, Rossi said he wouldn’t support an earlier version of the bill because it wasn’t paid for with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.
Democrats say the latest version is fully paid for, in part with $12 billion in cuts to food stamps and the closure of tax loopholes for some multinational companies.
Rossi told The Columbian he wasn’t impressed with Murray’s victory.
“It was done in a hasty manner,” he said. “She put a permanent tax in place for a temporary fix, and she’s taking money from our troops.” He did not elaborate.
Rossi spoke to an enthusiastic group at Fishers Grange and answered questions from a panel and from audience members. We the People Vancouver organizer Tom Hann said he’d been trying to schedule Rossi for two months, even before the former state senator and two-time candidate for governor formally entered the U.S. Senate race. “I was a respectful pest,” Hann said.
Rossi delivered his standard stump speech, beginning with the question, “Are you ready to retire Patty Murray’s tennis shoes?” to hoots and applause,
“America is in trouble,” he said. “This current crop of politicians, they’re borrowing to consume. That cannot end well.”
He criticized Murray for her ranking as one of the Senate’s top users of budget earmarks to deliver federal projects to her state and said Murray has voted for every spending bill that has come before the Senate since 2004.
“Everything she’s been voting for is killing jobs,” Rossi said.
He called the health reform bill “a tax and spend bill” and said the new financial reform bill also “kills jobs” by starving businesses of money they need to grow.
Addressing one of the hottest topics in Congress these days, he also said tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush administration “all need to be authorized or it will be the largest tax increase in history.” Most of those tax cuts will expire by the end of the year.
In response to questions, Rossi vowed not to vote for federal legislation that violates the Constitution, affirmed his support for the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to bear arms, and said the federal government is ineffective in boosting the economy.
“The more the federal government sticks its nose in, the worse things get,” he said.
Rossi said he’d cut the federal budget the same way he cut the state budget when he chaired the Senate Ways and Means Committee in 2003, by scrutinizing it “line by line.” However, he declined to list federal agencies he would support doing away with to reduce federal spending.
“I’m not running on abolishing departments at this point,” he said.
Asked about immigration policy, Rossi said he wants to secure the borders, but still leave open the opportunity for immigrants like his own Italian grandparents to come to the U.S. legally and become citizens. He said he has no good solution for what to do with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants who live in the U.S. today.
We the People Vancouver plans to post video clips of its vetting sessions with candidates for the U.S. Senate, 3rd Congressional District and Clark County legislative races no later than Friday, Hann said.
The group is not making formal endorsements.