Local lawmakers weigh in on fiscal cliff crisis, before returning to Washington

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Local lawmakers weigh in on fiscal cliff crisis, before returning to Washington

CREATED Dec 28, 2012

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - As we speak, local lawmakers are preparing to head back to Washington, with your worries fresh on their minds.

With the clock winding down until Congress either careens over the cliff or slams on the breaks,  they say one thing is certain.
"The regrettable part is that we could have been at this point months ago," said U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-3rd District).
"We're finally getting down to what we should have been doing a long time ago," said U.S. Rep. Ron Barber (D-2nd District).
What's also certain says Congressman Barber is that constituents, many of whom worry their taxes will be hiked, their benefits slashed, are fed up.
"Everywhere I go, whether it's a restaurant or supermarket or wherever, I hear people who come up to me and say 'Ron, please get something done,'" he said.  "People are tired of the bickering and of the divide."
Grijalva says most often, that message is two-fold.  First, there's the plea for Washington to work together.
"And then when it comes to the entitlement programs, most of the reaction I've gotten is to leave social security alone, protect medicare, don't cut benefits, and so you have a mixed message," he said.
It's one half of what Grijalva says is now, a stubborn, symbolic fight, with republicans pushing for cuts to such programs and democrats pushing for a progressive tax.
Still, with so many major repercussions at stake, there is some confidence Congress will end up come through at the eleventh hour, at least in part.
"I anticipate that we're going to have a short term decision, that we're going to do something about the tax rates and try and preserve them for the middle class, try to preserve some unemployment insurance issues," said Grijalva.
As for a forecast for the fiscal future, Congressman Barber believes the winds are shifting.
"We have over 80 new members of a Congress coming in.  That's close to a quarter of the Congress coming in for the first time," he said.  "That will bring new players, perhaps new attitudes. Some of the more extreme members of Congress are not going to be coming back."
Congressman Grijalva will arrive in Washington Saturday.  Congressman Barber will land the day after that.
Both of them have been in touch with their colleagues in Washington, and say they are prepared to talk and act quickly.
To contact Congressman Grijalva's Washington, DC office, click here.
To contact with Congressman Barber's, click here.