Fiscal Cliff Deal Clears House; Heads to Obama

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After weeks of uncertainty, House representatives passed a fiscal cliff deal approved by the Senate earlier New Year's Day that neutralizes a combination of across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts.

The House cleared the plan in a 257-to-167 vote late Tuesday night.  The Senate had reached the final deal late Monday but didn't finish voting until just after 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Senators passed the plan in an 89-to-8 vote, which allows taxes go up on some high-income Americans.

Watch CBN News Reporter George Thomas's earlier report on the fiscal cliff.

"I think we can say we've done some good for the country," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said after hammering out the last-minute deal with Vice President and former Senate colleague Joe Biden.

The deal blocks those Bush-era tax cuts from going up on 99 percent of taxpayers. But taxes will go up on couples making $450,000 and more.

That was a lot for House Republicans to swallow as a bipartisan tax increase hasn't been passed since 1990.

Some were concerend earlier that House leaders may had been soured by a White House event where President Obama appeared to some Republicans to be gloating over his victory even before the deal was done.

"Keep in mind that just last month Republicans in Congress said they would never agree to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans," the president said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, "He comes out and calls people together and has a group standing behind him, laughs and jokes and ridicules Republicans. Why?"

The deal also puts off those painful automatic spending cuts across government for two months.

It will maintain unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, and it will prevent a hike in the alternative minimum tax for some 28 million other Americans.

Meanwhile, tourists outside the majestic Capitol building wondered why those inside were having such a tough time cutting a deal.

"I can't for the life of me figure out why they can't make things work," New York resident Sarah Cunningham said. "It doesn't make a benefit for anyone. It seems like a family squabbling within itself rather than getting to the real point."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., agreed.

"Something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to the American economy is the American Congress," he said.

Neither liberal nor conservative groups like the deal, possible making it tougher for the House to pass the measure.

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