Vote in Congress averts ‘fiscal cliff’

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The House of Representatives approved a deal Tuesday night to keep the United States from heading over the edge of the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

The measure was brought to the House floor less than 24 hours after its passage Tuesday morning in the Senate. Failure to reach an agreement would have meant widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts.

The House approved the deal by 257-167, with 85 Republicans joining 172 Democrats in voting to allow income taxes to rise for the first time in two decades, according to CNN.

Voting no were 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats.

The bill was expected to be signed quickly by President Obama.

The agreement, brokered by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), passed the Senate 89-8 in a highly unusual New Year’s morning vote, according to The Washington Post.

The plan maintains tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 a year and couples earning less than $450,000, marking the first time in two decades the rates jump for the wealthiest Americans, according to CNN.

At the same time, the deal will protect more than 100 million households earning less than $250,000 a year from income tax increases that had been scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, according to the Post.

The bill also extends unemployment insurance and delays for two months a series of automatic cuts in federal spending, CNN reported.

The deal came together 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, according to the Post.

Republicans gave in on the spending cuts, known as sequestration, by agreeing to a two-month delay in budget reductions that would be paid for in part with new tax revenue, a condition they had resisted. And the White House made a major concession on the estate tax, agreeing to terms that would permit estates worth as much as $15 million to escape taxation by the end of the decade, Democrats said.

Click here for the CNN report.

Click here for the Washington Post report.

Click here for a Washington Post graphic that outlines the effect the bill’s tax increases, which include the expiration of the payroll tax holiday, will have across the income spectrum.

- Compiled by Reagan Haynes

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