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House approves fiscal cliff bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) — After months of drama and some tense last minute negotiating, Congress finally passed legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff.

And after the vote, a rare late night statement from President Obama, he said, “this law is just one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy and broaden opportunity for everybody”.

Lawmakers completely blew their deadline and didn’t get the grand bargain that both parties claimed was the ultimate goal. But both Democrats and Republicans gave themselves credit for getting something done. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says, “this is a very, very strong first step”.

There was considerable hand wringing among Republicans about a lack of spending cuts, some wanted to add them in, but ultimately there weren’t enough votes to get it passed.

The fiscal cliff deal, which passed the senate with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier Tuesday morning, would extend tax cuts for all workers earning less and $400,000 a year, prevent a tax hike on estates valued at less than $5 million and extend unemployment benefits for two million people that were set to expire today.

Since Congress missed the January first midnight deadline, technically the country did go over the fiscal cliff. But by passing the compromise deal in the House and Senate, Congress can try to take credit for retroactive tax cuts.

To avoid this fiscal cliff, Congress essentially set up new ones. In two months, they’ll need to deal with the automatic spending cuts they put off and there will be a nasty fight over the debt ceiling.

* NOTE: Representatives Mike McIntyre (D) and Walter Jones (R) both voted NO on the bill.

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