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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs