Congress OKs cliff deal, signaling future fights
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress' approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands a victorious President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure.
Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and debt.
The GOP-run House voted final approval for the measure late Tuesday by 257-167. That came after the Democratic-led Senate used a pre-dawn 89-8 roll call to assent to the bill, belying the partisan brinkmanship that colored much of the path to the final deal.
While the tax package that Congress passed New Year's Day will protect 99 percent of Americans from an income tax increase, most of them will still end up paying more federal taxes in 2013.
That's because the legislation did nothing to prevent a temporary reduction in the Social Security payroll tax from expiring. In 2012, that 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax was worth about $1,000 to a worker making $50,000 a year.