House approves Senate deal, sidesteps ‘fiscal cliff’
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The U.S. House passed the hard-fought so-called 'fiscal cliff' deal late Tuesday night. Shortly after the vote, President Obama gave a short address thanking lawmakers for their vote.
"I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, while preventing a middle class tax hike that could have sent the economy back in recession and obviously had a severe impact on families all across America," President Obama said.
Throughout most of New Year's Day, it was unclear whether the House would agree to vote on the bill that passed in the Senate earlier with overwhelming votes.
Several Republicans opposed the measure, criticizing its lack of spending cuts. In the end, 85 voted to approve it, but not without a few parting shots.
"I just wanted to thank so many on the other side, after all these years, for finally acknowledging publicly that that 98 percent of the Bush tax cuts help the middle class," Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert said.
The Bush-era tax breaks will be extended for individuals making $400,000 and couples making $450,000 or less, unemployment insurance will be extended, along with the current estate tax exemption.
It also raises the threshold for the alternative minimum tax, permanently linking it to inflation and preventing a spike in milk prices.
"Reconciling our differences was a monumental task, especially with the time growing short," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
The bill also delays the $110 billion across-the-board spending cuts for two months, which could turn into another political standoff.
"One thing I think hopefully in the New Year we'll focus on is seeing if we can put a package like this together with a little less drama, a little less brinksmanship,” President Obama said. “Not scare the heck out of folks quite as much."