On the heels of the Senate’s last-minute fiscal cliff deal, agreement to stave off the harshest and most immediate consequences of the cliff won approval in the House.
The House voted 257-167 for it. President Barack Obama said he would sign the law, the battle over which foreshadowed more fights with Congress over spending.
Passed over the objections of many conservative Republicans, the legislation takes steps toward resolving the combination of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.
Those cuts were to take effect January 1, but the new bill preserves tax rates as they were at the end of 2012, except for those earning more than $400,000.
Couples can earn up to $450,000 without higher taxes. The bill also allows taxes on capital gains and dividends to go up, and extends benefits of the unemployed.
Additionally, the Senate bill delays the onset of the “sequester” – the swift, automatic spending cuts to a wide variety of federal programs – for two months.
“Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in Congress I will sign a law that raises the taxes on the wealthiest of Americans,” Obama said.
All “while preventing a middle-class tax hike.”
The House vote laid bare the internal ideological divisions that plague the GOP. More Republican congressmen (151) voted against the Senate bill than for it (85).
Democrats’ support was needed to advance the final deal, despite the Republicans’ majority. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) voted in favor of the legislation.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, also supported the package, but most of their GOP colleagues did not do so.
“Now the focus turns to spending,” Boehner said in a statement.
“The American people re-elected a Republican majority in the House, and we will use it in 2013 to hold the president accountable for the ‘balanced’ approach he promised.”
That will undoubtedly mean” significant spending cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving our country deeper and deeper into debt.”