Most Bay Staters in House rejected deal

By Theo Emery
Globe Staff / April 15, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Most of the all-Democratic House delegation from Massachusetts rejected appeals from party leaders and President Obama yesterday and voted against the budget compromise that keeps the government afloat.

In opposing the deal, which was passed 260-167, a half-dozen Bay State members joined liberals concerned that the cuts went too far and fiscal conservatives clamoring for more.

For Representative Barney Frank of Newton, his vote against the deal was really a vote for the economy.

“It is important to get a good deficit reduction plan that has spending restraints, military reductions, but this is not the time to further weaken what’s a moderately good recovery,’’ he said.

Last week, he voted against a stopgap measure to buy time to complete the broader bill but said then that he probably would have voted for the compromise to prevent a government shutdown. This time, he felt no such hesitation: Had the bill failed, “I would have been happy,’’ he said.

John F. Tierney of Salem, James P. McGovern of Worcester, Stephen F. Lynch of Boston, Edward J. Markey of Malden, and Michael E. Capuano of Somerville also opposed the measure.

Because the deal passed easily, those questioning its scope or intent were provided the opportunity to register their displeasure without worrying that their vote could be blamed for shutting down government and creating a political, and potentially an economic, crisis. Markey said that votes like his were not enough to tip the outcome. If they had been, he said he would have used his leverage not to scuttle the deal, but to force more cuts to defense spending.

“There just weren’t enough of us in this round to force a larger discussion,’’ he said.

Niki Tsongas of Lowell, William Keating of Quincy, and Richard E. Neal of Springfield voted to support the deal. John Olver of Amherst did not vote.

In the Senate, both Democrat John F. Kerry and Republican Scott Brown voted with the majority in passing the measure.

Keating said there were numerous aspects of the bill that gave him pause, but he thought it was more important to avoid a shutdown.

“People are tired of the gamesmanship, and there’s tough choices,’’ he said. “The one choice not to make is to shut down government.’’

Neal said the more important vote comes today, when the House takes up Republicans’ 2012 budge , with deeper cuts and major changes to Medicare and other entitlements.

Theo Emery can be reached at