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Shutdown Averted

We have a federal budget, in spite of most of the Arizona delegation's votes

Just before taking a holiday break, Congress managed to pass a budget and avoid a government shutdown.

There was spending in it that Republicans didn't like and tax cuts that Democrats didn't like. We don't have room to go into the details (Google it yourself), but we can tell you how Arizona lawmakers voted.

If there's a simple takeaway about how the Arizona delegation voted, it's that the more moderate members voted in favor, while the more extreme representatives voted against it. (And also, the women were for it and the men were against it, but that's more coincidental than anything else, as far as we can tell.)

In favor were Reps. Martha McSally (R-CD2), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9). Against it were Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-CD2), David Schweikert (R- CD6), Matt Salmon (R-CD5), Paul Gosar (R-CD4), Trent Franks (R-CD8), and Ruben Gallego (D-CD7).

Both of Arizona's GOP senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, voted against it.

Kirkpatrick, who is running for McCain's seat next year, blasted Arizona's senior senator for voting against the bill.

"It's appalling that John McCain would put his own agenda ahead of our national security and Arizona families," Kirkpatrick said in a prepared statement. "Without this bill, our military would not have the resources it needs to destroy ISIS. Our veterans would lose access to their care and benefits. Our 9/11 first responders would no longer receive the treatment they badly need. This is a breathtakingly misguided vote by McCain that endangers Americans and represents the worst of Washington politics."

But McCain said the spending bill was loaded "with wasteful, unnecessary, and inappropriate pork-barrel projects" and should instead "have been focused on our warfighters."

"At a time of war and cuts to our national defense, this 2000-page bill negotiated in secret includes over $2 billion in defense funding for duplicative medical research, the vast majority of which has nothing to do with the mission of the U.S. military or Department of Defense," McCain said in a press release. "This omnibus bill, and the broken process that produced it, represents everything that the American people hate about Washington. The American people deserve better."

But Kirkpatrick cited the many benefits to Arizona in the legislation and said it was better than another government shutdown.

"It was refreshing to vote for an omnibus bill that includes smart investments in jobs, education, transportation and infrastructure," Kirkpatrick said. "And this bill is especially good for Arizona, with increases for wildfire grants programs, national parks, Pell Grants, Head Start, Impact Aid and much more. Instead of the usual shutdown threats and brinksmanship, Congress worked together on this compromise bill, and while it isn't perfect, it deserved to pass with overwhelming support."

McSally also said the spending package was "far from perfect" but—in contrast to McCain's criticisms—added that it "prioritizes protecting our homeland."

"Today's bipartisan legislation benefits Southern Arizona in many ways," McSally said. "I've been a leading voice to stop the dangerous cuts to our depleted military. This agreement does just that. After I fought hard to protect the A-10 and EC-130H, this bill provides full funding for both aircraft as well as my amendment to prevent the retirement of any EC-130H next year. It includes an additional $241 million for three critical missiles produced at Raytheon in Tucson, keeping their lines running and protecting good-paying Southern Arizona jobs. The bill also contains funding for construction at Davis-Monthan and Fort Huachuca, including $18.2 million for personnel recovery training missions conducted in Southern Arizona and $3.9 million to renovate the Joint Interoperability Test Command buildings."

McSally also praised provisions that improved funding for counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations as well as border security.

Flake explained his vote against the bill succinctly: "I voted against the omnibus because it adds to our growing debt, fails to address wasteful spending, and is full of the same tired giveaways we've seen over the years."

Grijalva's office did not respond to a request for comment on his vote.

Help A Nonprofit!

Here's your chance to write part of the state budget

If you're tired of seeing Arizona lawmakers cut programs for the tired and poor in our community, there is one small way you can help make a difference—and it won't cost you anything.

You can take advantage of the state's charitable tax credit for the least fortunate.

It's pretty simple, as long as you have $200 you can part with for a few months: You give $200 (or $400 for a married couple filing jointly) to a charity that aids the working poor. Then you get the money back next year when you file your taxes. You come out even, the nonprofit gets a donation they can use to help people and GOP lawmakers have less control over how your tax dollars are spent.

Here are a handful of recommendations if you're wondering about where to dish out a few bucks in the spirit of the season.

• The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona provides plenty of help to people who are living on the edge and has recently branched into innovative programs that teach people to grow their own vegetables.

Here's a bonus: Every dollar you give to the food bank before the end of the year will be matched by $2 from The Jim Click Family Foundation, Jim and Sandy Peebles, the Chen/Chow family, Janet and Barry Lang and others. That means every dollar you give will allow the food bank to provide a dozen meals. Do it!

To make a contribution, call 622-0525; mail a check to P.O. Box 26727, Tucson, AZ 85726; or make an online contribution at communityfoodbank.com.

The Pima Council on Aging does a lot to help elderly people stay in their homes through the Meals on Wheels program, as well as home visits that provide assistance with everything from housekeeping to bathing.

To make a donation to PCOA, call 790-0504; mail a check to 8467 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85710; or make an online contribution at pcoa.org.

Emerge! is the domestic-violence agency that provides emergency shelter, child-care centers and outreach services for victims of domestic abuse.

To donate, visit emergecenter.org; call 795-8001; or mail a donation to 2545 E. Adams St., Tucson, AZ 86716.

Red Cross of Southern Arizona provides disaster relief and outreach to veterans, as well as collecting blood donations. Donations can be made by calling 318-6740 or mailing a contribution to, the Red Cross office, 2916 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85716.

A few others you might consider: Child and Family Resources (881-8940), the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (327-1171), and Casa de los Niños (624-0312).

And if you're as appalled as we are by the underfunding of Arizona schools, there's a similar program that allows you to give $200 (or $400 per couple) to a public school and get the money back on your taxes, so consider that as well. There are plenty of schools that need the extra boost for arts and athletic programs.

You can find a complete list of qualifying agencies and more details about the tax credits at https://azdor.gov/TaxCredits.aspx.

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel is taking a two-week holiday break. The show will return to the CW Tucson and KXCI-FM on Sunday, Jan. 10.

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