The White House and the GOP finally reached an agreement to prevent tax increases across-the-board and spending cuts to government programs with only a couple of hours left to spare until the midnight deadline on January 1, 2013. The Senate has passed the agreement and now all that is needed is the House's approval. It is unclear when the House will vote on it. The hope is that the bill will be signed into law by Tuesday morning before the 113th Congress is sworn in at Noon.
The fiscal cliff could have been avoided a year ago if Congress hadn't failed time and time again to negotiate the debt ceiling. The 112th Congress is considered the least effective Congress in the history of the United States with signing 219 bills into law. The 111th Congress signed 383 bills and the 110th signed 460 into law. Considering the 80th Congress, also known as the "Do Nothing Congress", signed 906 bills into law from 1947-1948. The Congress that has been dubbed the "Do Nothing Congress" managed to pass 687 more bills.
This is the first time both the House of Representatives and Senate were forced to hold roll call votes between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve since the 1970s.
It is worth mentioning that the 112th Congress has just received a salary raise. It is also worth noting that the same ineffective men and women of the 112th Congress now make up the 113th Congress. Is it true that you can't teach an old dog new tricks or will the 113th Congress learn to work together and cross party lines?
The agreement reached consisted of a prevention of tax increases on most Americans but families making more than $400,000 and household earnings over $450,000 will be taxed a maximum of 39.6%. Unemployment benefits would continue for one year. Estates worth more than $5 million dollars would increase to 40%.
Some Republicans feel President Obama's remarks earlier were intended to antagonize members of the House. Obama Chastised Congress saying,
"Now, if Republicans think that I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone -- and you hear that sometimes coming from them... then they've got another thing coming. ...That's not how it's going to work at least as long as I'm president."
He added, "And I'm going to be president for the next four years, I think."
Some Democrat officials said that his remarks were intended to ease the concerns of liberals in his own party who feared he had given away too much in the current talks over taxes.
All the childish fighting in Washington frustrated many Americans, including many from West Chester, Pennsylvania. One man believes,
"Everyone on Capitol Hill from the President on down should be fired. They're not doing their jobs and in the real world when you don't do your job, you get fired. We need to start over with people who don't care about crossing party lines and will actually work together."
"The government needs to stop spending money we don't have and start trying to make a dent in our 16 trillion dollar debt," said one woman.
Another woman stated,
"If the average Joe is expected to tighten his belt in these times then our politicians should have to do the same. Instead of their salary being raised they should have to take a pay cut just like many of the average Joe's have had to do. I'm tired of these politicians talking the talk but not walking the walk."
When this story originally broke it was hopeful that the House would vote on the bill to avoid the fiscal cliff before the 113th Congress was sworn in at Noon on January 1, 2013; however, as of 6 PM on January 1, 2013, the House has yet to vote.
It was believed that the House would pass it with very little difficulty. That does not seem to be the case.
Majority leader Eric Cantor has said he does not support the Senate bill. Once again, Congress has chosen to bicker like children instead of doing their job of working together and finding a solution that would actually help the American people who put them in office.
Again, it is worth mentioning that this situation could have and should have been avoided a year ago instead of waiting literally until the last minute possible. At this point someone needs to suck it up and compromise.
Members of the government aren't happy about the current situation. News flash-- neither are the American people who are the most effected by the current limbo.
As of 11:22 PM on January 1, 2013, the House has passed the bill to prevent financial disaster for many Americans. Despite many conservative Republicans' objections, the House majority voted to pass the bill with 257 to 167 votes.