The House of Representatives late Tuesday easily approved emergency bipartisan legislation sparing all but a sliver of America’s richest from sharp income tax hikes -- while setting up another “fiscal cliff” confrontation in a matter of weeks.
Lawmakers voted 257-167 to send the compromise to President Barack Obama to sign into law. Eighty-five Republicans and 172 Democrats backed the bill, which had sailed through the Senate by a lopsided 89-8 margin shortly after 2 a.m. Opposition comprised 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner voted in favor of the deal, as did House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, his party's failed vice presidential candidate. But Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy voted against it.
Obama, speaking from the White House briefing room shortly after the vote, praised lawmakers for coming together to avert a tax increase that “could have sent the economy back into a recession.”
“A central premise of my campaign for president was the change the tax code that was too skewed toward the wealthy at the expense of working, middle-class Americans. Tonight, we’ve done that,” the president said.
But he signaled that the legislation was “just one step in the broader effort” of getting the nation’s finances in order while boosting growth and job creation.
“The deficit is still too high,” he said, warning Republicans that he would stick with his demands for a “balanced” approach blending spending cuts with revenue increases, notably from the rich and wealthy corporations.