The House has cleared a fiscal cliff bill to stave off tax hike for tens of millions of Americans but is at best a short-term fix. The 257-167 House vote will cap days of frantic activity on Capitol Hill.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation quickly. It only got this far after Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) held a series meetings with Republican lawmakers outlining options. One high-risk strategy under consideration would have involved amending the bill and sending it back to the Senate. But it would likely have been DOA on the other side of the Capitol.
Such an outcome could make the House GOP the public face of a failed effort to avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts and possibly cause a public outcry as taxes on every American worker would jump, reports The Washington Post.
The agreement, approved by the Senate in a highly unusual New Year's morning vote, primarily targets taxpayers who earn more than $450,000 per year, raising their rates for wages and investment profits. At the same time, it would protect more than 100 million households earning less than $250,000 a year from income tax increases scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
The deal came together barely three hours before the midnight deadline, after negotiators cleared two final hurdles involving the estate tax and automatic spending cuts set to affect the Pentagon and other federal agencies this week.
Though the final vote was hardly in doubt, it still provided surprises. Speaker Boehner voted for the bill but Cantor opposed it. So did House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (WI), the 2012 vice-presidential nominee, voted for the measure.
Politix reporting and via The Washington Post.