After negotiations that strained the country's patience, the House approved a bill to avert the dreaded fiscal cliff, staving off widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts.
In the 257-167 vote late Tuesday, 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans favored the bill; 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans opposed it.
The approved plan maintains tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 per year and couples earning less than $450,000. It will raise tax rates for those who make more, marking the first time since 1993 that federal income tax rates have gone up for any Americans, according to the Tax Foundation. The bill also extends unemployment insurance and delays for two months a series of automatic cuts in federal spending.
World markets rose after the news. U.S. Stocks jumped, too, with the Dow rising 210 points after opening. Just hours before the bill passed, House Speaker John Boehner pitched to fellow Republicans the idea of amending the Senate-approved bill to add a package of spending cuts. He cautioned about the risk in such a strategy, saying there was no guarantee the Senate would act on it.
President Barack Obama said he would sign the bill into law, but he did not say when.In practical terms, there's no urgency on the president's signature. It's up to the Obama administration to implement the budget and tax changes, and since the president has said he will sign the measure, the administration can begin planning for the changes immediately.