News / USA

    US Senate Votes to Avert 'Fiscal Cliff'

    House Speaker John Boehner Ohio walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 1, 2013.
    House Speaker John Boehner Ohio walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 1, 2013.
    Michael Bowman
    The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan agreement to spare most Americans from steep tax hikes and delay across-the-board federal spending cuts imposed by the so-called “fiscal cliff”.

    The vote of 89-8 early Tuesday came hours after the United States had technically stepped off the fiscal cliff.

    President Barack Obama praised the Senate action and urged the House of Representatives to pass the bill "without delay." The bill needs approval by the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law.

    The House plans to convene at noon Tuesday.

    Senators spent New Year’s Eve preparing to vote on a bill that was the product of months of intensive and often bitter negotiations between Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and the White House.

    VP urged compromise

    Before the vote, Vice President Joe Biden came to the Capitol to rally Senate Democrats behind closed doors. He emerged with a broad grin, saying, “Happy New Year. I feel very good about how this vote is going to go.”

    U.S. FISCAL DEAL FACTS

    • Raises $600 billion over 10 years through higher taxes on wealthier Americans
    • Delays by two months billions of dollars in mandatory defense and domestic spending cuts
    • Extends farm bill provisions to prevent a spike in milk prices
    • Blocks cuts to payments for doctors who treat elderly Americans
    • Extends unemployment benefits to 2 million people for one year
    • Cancels a $900 cost-of-living raise for members of Congress
    • Extends child tax credits, and those for college tuition and renewable energy

    The agreement preserves current federal tax rates on income up to $450,000 a year. President Barack Obama initially sought a lower income threshold for a tax hike, while many Republicans had argued against raising taxes at all.

    The agreement also spares estates valued at less than $5 million from inheritance taxes, and extends unemployment benefits for a year. Deep automatic cuts to federal spending that would have squeezed domestic programs as well as national defense would be delayed for two months, allowing time for further negotiations.

    Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California expressed optimism, saying, “I feel it is very good for my state, and I think it is good for the country.”

    Boxer says, without the agreement, the United States would suffer a devastating economic jolt.

    “My main concern here is keeping this economic recovery going, and I think this package does that," she said.

    No one completely happy

    The Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said members of his caucus voted for the common good.

    “We [Republicans] do not think taxes should be going up on anyone. But we all knew that if we did nothing, they would be going up on everyone today," said McConnell. "We were not going to let that happen.”

    To be sure, many Democrats believe the deal does not go far enough to boost government revenue, and many Republicans still want deeper spending cuts to reduce America’s trillion-dollar federal deficit.

    Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein says the agreement is far from ideal, but preferable to the fiscal cliff.

    “There is always going to be some carping [partisan complaints]. But look, we are where we are," said Feinstein. "The one thing we have now is a bipartisan majority [backing the deal], and that is not to be easily dismissed.”

    Whether a bipartisan majority backs the deal in the House of Representatives remains to be seen. Until and unless the measure is passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law, the austerity regime known as the fiscal cliff - which went into effect at midnight Monday - will remain U.S. law.
    Poor, Jobless Worry About US Fiscal Cliffi
    X
    January 01, 2013 2:16 AM
    Those at the bottom of the economic ladder have much to lose if the country faces automatic tax hikes and spending cuts -- particularly if there are cutbacks in many federal assistance programs. Congress missed its deadline to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff when the House put off any votes Monday evening, even as the president and congressional leaders said they were closing in on a deal. In Los Angeles, Mike O'Sullivan talked with people at a charitable food pantry about their fears.

    Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ian from: USA
    January 01, 2013 10:28 PM
    Just as all of you, I am very worry for our country .
    My questions are:
    -We don't have surplus , then why are our government still sending foreign aid to other countries ? and some of those countries behave like a bunch of ungrateful spoiled kids toward us.
    If you don't have money , are you going to send part of your pay check to your neighbors?
    -I know it is not fair , but even 50% percent tax will still leave a lot for a person who makes a billion to spend ( 500 millions) than 10% tax for a family of four who try to survive with a 40,000 pay check a year.
    -We should really do something about the chinese products that flood this country. When we buy so much of these stuff, we save a few dollars but our neighbors will lose jobs, and a chain reaction will start until it gets to your job's loss. It is absolutely hogwash when the economists telling us that the new chinese upper class will be looking to buy American made brands (No, they won't and they can't, because they already closed all the factories here and shipped jobs over there) Why would the chinese re-import american stuffs that really made in China? how silly is this lie!
    -retrain our work force to do what ? everyone becomes sofware architect ? let face it , not everyone is born to be a doctor or lawyer or scientist...someone will need a job as a factory worker.. ortherwise a percentage of our people will face unemployed, that is plain to see . Our policy has to encourage the factories to be here (I don't care if it is taxing the companies that produce things somewhere else)
    -and finally, if we import everything from elsewhere, what would happen when we have a war, we won't be capable to make anything for that war....imagine no steel mill, no truck factory, no tire comapny, no computer chip factory ... the list goes on and on. no factory can be constructed in one day,
    we will lose .

    by: Lumen from: Italy
    January 01, 2013 2:58 PM
    Please, America, do not become as europe. Don't forget your ancestor's lessons.

    by: Carol D from: Palm Bay< FL
    January 01, 2013 2:12 PM
    Okay at 89 votes for, 8 votes against.....what happened to the other 3????? Did they abstain? Were those Senate seats empty??????
    In Response

    by: Shirley from: California
    January 01, 2013 5:07 PM
    When are republicans going to take their heads out of the sand? Voters sent a message in November. If they want to run again in 2014 show they have some backbone and help those of us who do not have millions. Money isn't everything. How can they sleep at night? What is wrong with the speaker? Doesn't he know how to smile>

    by: Tran
    January 01, 2013 1:28 PM
    The other eight senators who voted against the bill probably earned more than half millions dollars a year.

    by: javapoppa from: usa
    January 01, 2013 11:19 AM
    The government is still spending $1,365,000,000,000 more than we take in, 70% of which is manufactured out of thin air by the Fed, and we are supposed to be turning handsprings over this phony 'fiscal cliff' deal? Our government is dysfunctional.
    In Response

    by: US CITIZEN from: 92029
    January 01, 2013 1:29 PM
    Please read the three prior arguments: all three refer to failures of others, not the authors themselves. But remember: i is US who drive their politics by our voting decisions: government for the people and BY the people. Pointing fingers at:China, Europe, Islam, Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Jews, Palestinians, Liberals, Democratas, Repaublicans, the Government, the rich, the poor, etc. etc - this is our REAL problem. Look into the mirror, please.

    by: Bearman from: U.S.A.
    January 01, 2013 7:48 AM
    The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living.
    In Response

    by: charles from: usa
    January 01, 2013 10:59 AM
    When are people going to realize that the words of the VP show what is wrong with our Congress today. "VP Biden urges compromise." When are people going to stand up and do what is right for America? All that we have heard over the past months is that we need to cut spending; well, where are the spending cuts Republicans? You have bowed down once again and let your voters down. Each one of you who voted for this bill needs to resign immediately because you are not doing the job you said you would do.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora