Congress approves fiscal cliff deal

Updated
FinalHouseVote
FinalHouseVote

House Republicans approved a bill put forward by the Senate to avoid the fiscal cliff Tuesday night after a long day of discussions and debates. The bill passed with a vote of 257 to 167.

Speaker John Boehner voted yes, while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor voted against it. The bill will now make its way to President Obama, who confirmed Tuesday night that he will sign it.

“This law is one more step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy and broaden opportunity,” Obama said in a press conference Tuesday after the House vote.

He added that the deficit was still too high, and said that there will be no more debate over raising the debt ceiling. “We cannot pay bills we’ve already incurred.”

The Senate passed an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff in the early morning hours on Tuesday. The bill was widely seen as bipartisan, passing with a vote of 89-8.

The agreement called for raising taxes on individuals with incomes over $400,000 and on households with incomes over $450,000. The proposal would also stave off a series of automatic spending cuts for the next two months, which lawmakers will have to confront in March.

Shortly after the Senate’s vote, President Obama released a statement that applauded the bipartisan effort to reach a deal in order to protect the middle class. “While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay,” he added.

On Tuesday afternoon, House Republicans and Democrats convened to discuss the Senate’s last-minute agreement in a final effort to negotiate a deal. Vice President Biden met with the Democratic caucus in what Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra called a “frank” conversation to discuss what the Senate was able to compromise on early Tuesday morning.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the negotiations were a step in the right direction, and that the Senate made “gigantic progress” with Tuesday morning’s bill. “We expect, the American people deserve, an up or down vote on what was passed in the Senate,” she said after the meeting.

Republicans seemed split on their response to the Senate’s proposal. Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole said on msnbc Tuesday morning that the Senate’s bill should be seen as a compromise, and needed to be passed. “We didn’t get everything we wanted, but when you can make 85% of the Bush Tax Cuts secure for 98% of the American people, give everybody rate certainty, and basically take the revenue piece off the table in our negotiations going forward, we ought to take this deal right now,” Cole said.

But Ohio Rep. Steven LaTourette told NBC’s Luke Russert on Tuesday afternoon that there was an overwhelming consensus among House Republicans that the leadership should find an amendment to address spending in a responsible way.

According to NBC News, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told House Republicans in a closed meeting that he could not support the deal.

On Tuesday evening, House Republicans met a second time to determine whether or not there was enough support for an amendment calling for additional spending cuts. Republicans found they did not have enough votes to pass the amended bill and brought the clean Senate bill to the floor instead.

Congress approves fiscal cliff deal

Updated