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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More