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11:02 pm
Tue January 1, 2013

House Votes To Pass Senate Bill, Despite GOP Calls For More Spending Cuts

217 votes were required to pass the legislation, with the final tally of  257 being carried by the House Democratic vote.

In addition to neutralizing middle class tax increases and spending cuts that technically took effect Monday at midnight, the legislation raises tax rates on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples.

House GOP leaders had been lobbying earlier in the day for an additional $300 billion dollars in spending cuts, however sentiment later shifted towards a vote on an unamended version of the compromise passed by the US Senate in the early hours of New Year's Day with a vote of 89-8 in favor.

An afternoon meeting of the Republican party's membership had generated this comment from the House Majority Leader  Eric Cantor (R-Va): "I do not support the bill. We are looking, though, for the best path forward." Earlier reports from Reuters and AP had indicated that the House would not reconvene until Wednesday.

A full rundown of the measures in the legislation are here, but Congress will still need to address the automatic spending cuts or sequestration measures that will cut the budgets of federal agencies by between 8-10% which were scheduled to come into operation on January 2nd.

NPR's S.V. Date is reporting on the deal.

"The eventual deal was hammered out by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. It passed the Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support.

"But passage in the House came only after Speaker John Boehner abandoned a longstanding Republican requirement that a bill could only come to the floor if a majority of Republicans supported it."

The next major challenge will be for Congress to raise the level of the national debt ceiling. The Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced on Monday that Federal borrowing had reached the official limit of $16.394 trillion.

Louise Slaughter Representative (D-NY 25th District) and ranking member of the House Rules Committee said the fiscal cliff deal is "no great victory" and "only a partial answer" that sets the nation up for "another fiscal showdown" in months. 

However, she said it helps the country avoid "the worst of the fiscal cliff."

"This legislation is far from perfect and the process that has led us here was an utter disgrace, yet in this time and crisis we must act first and foremost to protect the economy," she said.

A spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner said after a meeting of the GOP leadership that "the lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill was a universal concern amongst members in today's meeting."

International finance and resource markets rallied on the expectation of the legislation being passed.