The United States Senate finally passed a deal to avert the so called "fiscal cliff" at 2 a.m. this morning. The bill officially came two hours after the midnight deadline, but in reality the tardiness will not matter if the House is able to quickly pass the same legislation.
As any student of basic civics knows, a bill does not become law until it passed through both the Senate and the House, and then signed by the president. Today President Obama urged the House to pass the exact same bill in order to ensure middle class Americans that there taxes will not go up in the coming year. The bill locks in the Bush-era tax rates for all incomes below $450,000.
While House passage is by no means assured, it certainly appears likely at this point. The number one obstacle in the House was Speaker Boehner, who could have refused to even bring the bill up for a vote if he so decided. However, last night Boehner said that the House would honor its commitment to consider any legislation that passed out of the Senate.
In addition, both sides are rounding up their members for the anticipated vote. House Democrats are scheduled to caucus at noon today. They will be met by Vice President Joe Biden, who sold Senate Democrats on the deal before it breezed through that chamber.
House Republicans will meet at 1 p.m., and there is sure to be more resistance to the deal in that meeting. However, the passage of the bill in the Senate adds tremendous pressure on House Republicans to move the legislation forward. Otherwise, House Republicans alone would be to blame for tax rates going up on nearly every American, and every representative is up for re-election every two years.
Given all these factors, the bill will likely be on President Obama's desk tonight or tomorrow for his signature, which he will assuredly grant.
The country did officially the fiscal cliff, but it was only for a matter of hours and the consequences turned out to be much less dramatic that many imagined. Still, some of the most painful parts of the cliff were merely delayed two months as part of this new deal, which sets up another potential fall come late February or early March.