WASHINGTON - Legislation to negate a fiscal cliff of across-the-board tax increases and sweeping spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic agencies is being debated in the House.
The Senate approved the bill in an early-morning, 89-8 vote, capping a New Year's Eve drama unlike any other in the annals of Congress.
Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken were among those casting yes votes. "I voted for this compromise because the last thing we should be doing this New Year's is sticking middle class families with a tax hike. I fought for and wanted a larger, more comprehensive plan that balanced revenues and spending cuts," Klobuchar said in a written statement. "I will continue to push for a broader plan to reduce our debt and give businesses and families the certainty they need."
Franken agrees that the measure isn't perfect but believes the deal is better than the alternative. "While I don't think this package raises sufficient revenues toward paying down the debt or to make the investments in infrastructure, education, and research and development needed to grow our economy, I knew that no bill would have 100 percent of what I wanted."
The White House-backed legislation would prevent middle-class taxes from rising, and raise rates on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples.
The measure ensures that lawmakers will have to revisit difficult budget questions in coming weeks as relief from painful spending cuts expires and the government requires an increase in its borrowing cap.
House Speaker John Boehner pointedly refrained from endorsing the agreement, though he's promised a vote on it or a GOP alternative right away.
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