Two hours after the midnight deadline, in a continued effort to avert the fiscal cliff, the Senate approved HR 8, the Tax Relief Extension Act. By a vote of 89 to 8, the Senate showed overwhelming support for the agreement negotiated between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Vice President Joe Biden.
The House begins their day of legislative action at 12pm ET on January 1 and is expected to take action on the Senate deal at some point through the day. The Senate will also be back at 2pm ET this afternoon.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) agreed to present the agreement to the House Democratic caucus. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will consider the agreement since passed by the Senate, but offered no suggestions as to whether it would be accepted, amended or tossed.
A few key highlights from the deal:
- Higher income tax rates for individuals making over $400,000 and couples earning over $450,000 a year
- Modified tax rate for federal inheritance taxes
- Adjusted treatment of investment income for high-wage earners
- Repeal of the CLASS Act, a long-term care initiative through Obamacare
- 1-year extension of agricultural programs and Farm Bill through end of September 2013 to avert the "milk cliff"
- Blocked a pay raise for members of Congress
Three Senators did not vote: Kirk (R-IL), Lautenberg (D-NJ) and DeMint (R-SC)
Eight "No" votes: Carper (D-DE), Harkin (D-IA), Bennet (D-CO), Lee (R-UT), Paul (R-KY), Rubio (R-FL), Shelby (R-AL) & Grassley (R-IA)
It's only a matter of time before the House will take this to a vote. It's hard to imagine how the House can do anything but support the bill after such an overwhelming mix of bipartisan support in the Senate. Here are some previews from Congress members: