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 US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid