The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan compromise after a late-night vote of 257-157, clearing the way for the richest Americans to pay more taxes and shielding the middle class from painful tax hikes.
The measure provides fewer concessions than the president initially drafted in a tentative agreement with Speaker John A. Boehner last month, and "it was a far cry from what was on the table last year when negotiators were trying to reach what they called a grand bargain," as the New York Times writes.
Yesterday, the Senate approved legislation that would prevent middle-class taxes from rising, and tax rates would jump to 39.6 percent from 35 percent for individual incomes over $400,000 and couples over $450,000, as Digital Journal previously noted. Also, tax deductions and credits would start phasing out on incomes as low as $250,000.
The White House claims raising income tax rates on the wealthiest and keeping taxes low for the middle class, will give the U.S. the most progressive tax code in decades. The agreement also prevents two million people from losing unemployment insurance benefits in January by extending emergency UI benefits for one year, the President says.
While it was surprising to see the GOP concede on several important measures such as the critique the legislation didn't include enough spending cuts, many Republicans said they had little room to maneuver. The Times writes, "they decided they would save their fire for the coming rounds of the fight — the effort to increase the nation’s debt ceiling again in a month or two and an expiring governmentwide spending bill."
NBC News adds: Republicans are hopeful they might be able to extract more spending cuts and entitlement reforms with the government up against other deadlines, like the one needed this spring to authorize more government borrowing.
The bill will now head to Obama’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
Before the vote, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) urged his colleagues to vote for the bill "not as a Democrat, not as a Republican, but as an American who understands that our people believe that action is necessary," according to the Washington Post.