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Cliff Campaigners? Marco Rubio, Republicans Up for Election Say ‘No’ to Deal

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Who voted “no” on the “fiscal-cliff” deal this morning? Republicans up for re-election in 2016, that’s who.

The Senate passed its last-minute “fiscal-cliff” deal 89-8 at 1:39 a.m. Tuesday and of the eight fiscal naysayers, five are Republicans up for re-election in 2016, one of them a purported White House contender.

The deal would raise taxes on individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000, and tax hikes of any sort have never been popular with Republicans facing re-election.

The bill was brought to the floor by a Democrat up for re-election in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (D-Nev.); it was finalized with Republicans, and sold to Democrats, by one who could maybe run for president in 2016 (big maybe): Vice President Joe Biden.

The eight no-voters were:

•    Sen. Michael Bennet, (D-Colo.), up in 2016
•    Sen. Tom Carper, (D-Del.)
•    Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), up in 2016
•    Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-Iowa)
•    Sen. Mike Lee, (R-Utah), up in 2016
•    Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), up in 2016
•    Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), up in 2016
•    Sen. Richard Shelby, (R-Ala.), up in 2016

The three senators who didn’t vote:

•    Sen. Jim DeMint, (R-S.C.), resigned from the Senate
•    Sen. Mark Kirk, (R-Ill.), up in 2016
•    Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-N.J.)

It’s not as if the majority of Republicans up for re-election voted “no” on the cliff deal: 24 Republicans will face re-election in 2016, and 19 voted for the deal.

But two names might stick out, among the five who didn’t. Sen. Marco Rubio is widely considered to have a decent shot at the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and, as Roll Call’s Jonathan Strong aptly tweeted, his “no” vote could put some pressure on another potential White House aspirant, Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), who will likely have to vote on this deal in the next couple days. Big votes like this one are the kind that come up in presidential primary debates; last time around, the 2011 debt-limit vote was a topic. Rubio explained in a news  release after the vote that he appreciated the hard work that went into the deal, but “rapid economic growth and spending reforms are the only way out of the real fiscal cliff our nation is facing,” and those “will be made more difficult” by this bill. His full statement:

“I appreciate all the hard work that went into avoiding the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’ I especially commend Senator McConnell’s efforts to make the best out of a bad situation. Nevertheless, I cannot support the arrangement they have arrived at. Rapid economic growth and spending reforms are the only way out of the real fiscal cliff our nation is facing.

“Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they’ll pay this new tax and, chances are, they’ll do it by firing employees, cutting back their hours and benefits, or postponing the new hire they were looking to make. And to make matters worse, it does nothing to bring our dangerous debt under control.

“Of course, many Americans will be relieved in the short term that their taxes won’t go up. However in the long run, they will be hurt when employers pass on to them one of the largest tax hikes in decades. Furthermore, this deal just postpones the inevitable, the need to solve our growing debt crisis and help the 23 million Americans who can’t find the work they need.”

Perhaps an unsurprising name on this list is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), never shy about bucking the policies of his fellow Kentuckian, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). A Rand Paul 2016 presidential run has also been the subject of speculation, albeit more quietly than Rubio’s taken-for-granted status as a GOP star.

Another “no” voter, Utah. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), is a tea-party star in his own right, having ousted longtime GOP Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) with help from the Club for Growth at Utah’s 2010 nominating convention, one of the early upsets that ginned up enthusiasm and signaled the 2010 primary bum rush on GOP incumbents.

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