The House drew the nation back from the fiscal cliff tonight when it voted to approve compromise legislation that, amongst other provisions, makes the current estate tax policy permanent, with one minor change.
The final vote was 257-167. More Democrats, 172, voted for the bill, than Republicans, 85. Sixteen Democrats voted “no,” while 11 members of the House did not vote.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly. He spoke to the nation shortly after the House completed the vote.
House majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and other Republicans considered alternatives to supporting the plan for many hours before deciding to allow Democrats to carry the day in a rare case where the majority party did not provide the votes needed to pass legislation.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate, voted for the fiscal cliff deal, as did House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The No. 2 ranking Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, as well as the third-ranking Republican in the House, GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., both voted against it.
While the final legislation is a big win for the life insurance industry, it is not the over-arching package that would provide the industry certainty for the tax consequences its customers would face in buying the rest of the industry’s products.
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Left on the table was the current debt ceiling, which must be raised by mid-March at the latest, and how to pay for cuts in entitlements and defense spending that were also kicked down the road for several months.
The interim deal to avoid a so-called “fiscal cliff” was passed by the Senate 89-8 at 2 a.m. Tuesday.
The House convened at 1 p.m. to consider the bill, but Republicans and Democrats met separately and wandered the House corridors before convening at 9:30 or so to begin debate.
The plan will raise income taxes on single earners with annual incomes above $400,000 and married couples with incomes above $450,000.