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Jan 1, 2013 No Comments ›› iResist

The Hill – The House late Tuesday night voted to approve a sweeping tax deal to prevent the most significant effects of the “fiscal cliff,” overcoming Republican resistance to allow tax rates to rise on the wealthiest earners.

The 257-167 vote culminated a day of high drama in the Capitol, as Republican leaders considered and then quickly abandoned a plan to attach steep spending cuts to a measure passed overwhelmingly by the Senate early Tuesday morning.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voted in favour of the legislation, splitting with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the Budget Committee chairman and former Republican vice presidential nominee, voted yes.

Finished just over 36 hours before the 112th Congress adjourns, the legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.

The bill extends indefinitely marginal tax rates on annual family income up to $450,000, lifts the top capital gains and dividends rates to 20 percent, extends unemployment insurance benefits and a host of other tax provisions.
It delays automatic spending cuts for two months, setting up another fiscal showdown over replacing those cuts, raising the debt ceiling and funding the federal government.

For Boehner (R-Ohio), the vote ended a nightmarish two-month stretch during which he failed to strike a post-election grand bargain with President Obama, scrapped a vote on his own fiscal plan because of a Republican mutiny and ultimately was forced to sit on the sidelines as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hammered out a final deal with Vice President Biden.

The post-election period was not much better for Congress as a whole. With economists warning that going over the fiscal cliff could send the U.S. economy back into recession, Democratic and Republican leaders bickered until the 11th hour and technically missed the Jan. 1 deadline for preventing a sharp tax hike.

The Senate approved its bill in the early morning hours as most Americans were celebrating the New Year, forcing the House to accept it or risk the wrath of taxpayers and the markets.

After a personal pitch Tuesday afternoon from Biden, House Democrats broadly supported the measure.

House Republicans, meanwhile, nearly revolted.

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