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Senate passes fiscal cliff measure

7:44 AM, Jan 1, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON -- The Senate has passed legislation to block the impact of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that make up the fiscal cliff.

The vote was an overwhelming 89-8 and came well after midnight on New Year's Day.

A House vote is expected before Wednesday.

The White House-backed legislation would prevent middle-class taxes from rising, and raise rates on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples.

It also blocks spending cuts for two months, extends unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, prevents a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevents a spike in milk prices.

A last-minute addition would also prevent a $900 pay raise for members of Congress from taking effect in March.

Boehner: No decision on accepting 'cliff' pact

House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team say they need to review a Senate pact that would increase taxes on incomes exceeding $400,000 before deciding to schedule a vote on the measure or try to change it.

In a joint statement late Monday, House GOP leaders promised to keep their commitment to act on the measure if it passes the Senate. But they say they won't decide whether to accept the measure or to amend it and send it back to the Senate until lawmakers and their constituents have a chance to review the legislation.

Democrats would likely oppose any effort to amend the measure to make it more to GOP liking. That would likely make it almost impossible for Republicans to quickly rewrite the measure.

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