UPDATE 9:00PM: House passes Taxpayer Relief Act 257-167. In the Colorado delegation the vote is party line, all Democrats voting in favor, all Republicans voting against.
UPDATE #2: Just when you thought it was safe to exhale, FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:
After House Republicans caucused Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-VA, the second-ranking member of the caucus, stated he was opposing the bill, the first big sign that the Senate compromise may be in serious trouble.
Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, a close confidant of Cantor’s, also confirmed that he’ll oppose the legislation as it’s currently written.
“But [Gardner] will consider an amendment that meets the test of cutting spending, growing the economy (through responsible tax policy) and not burdening an ever growing deficit,” Rachel George, Gardner’s spokeswoman, told FOX31 Denver in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
The very latest word is that a vote will be held tonight on an unmodified version of the deal passed by the Senate early this morning. It should then pass, with support of Democrats and some number of moderate Republicans in favor. We’ll update when and if that happens.
UPDATE: Politico’s Seung Min Kim has more from dissenting Sen. Michael Bennet:
“While I do support many of the items in this proposal – for example, extending unemployment insurance, the wind production tax credit and tax cuts for most Americans – I believe they should have come in the context of a comprehensive deficit reduction package,” Bennet said. “Without a serious mechanism to reduce the debt, I cannot support this bill.”
“Putting the country on a sustainable fiscal path and bringing our debt under control is incredibly important to our economy and our standing in the world and is a top priority for me,” Bennet continued. “I remain committed to continue working with any Republican or Democrat willing to address this problem in a serious way. Colorado’s kids deserve no less.”
After a rare holiday session that lasted through the New Year’s Eve celebration and two hours into New Year’s Day, senators voted 89-8 to approve the proposal. Three Democrats and five Republicans dissented, most prominently Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“It took an imperfect solution to prevent our constituents from very real financial pain,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said before the vote. “This shouldn’t be the model for how to do things around here. But I think we can say we’ve done some good for the country.”
President Obama, in a statement released by the White House early Tuesday morning, said, “While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay.”
One of those three dissenting Democrats was Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado:
In addition to Rubio, the dissenters to the deal in the Senate were Democrats Tom Harkin (Iowa), Thomas R. Carper (Del.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.), and Republicans Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.).
CNN has a statement from Sen. Bennet:
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, is the incoming chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the group tasked with electing Democrats to the upper chamber. He created his own plan to avert the fiscal cliff in November alongside Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (who voted for the compromise measure early Tuesday).
He wrote in a statement Tuesday: “Washington once again has lived up to its reputation as the ‘Land of Flickering Lights.’ For four years in my townhall meetings across the state Coloradans have told me they want a plan that materially reduces the deficit. This proposal does not meet that standard and does not put in place a real process to reduce the debt down the road.”
Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa also voted against the deal, calling it “grossly unfair” to the middle class after the ceiling on income remaining eligible for the Bush tax cuts was raised to accomodate Republicans. It’s possible Bennet’s objection is similarly progressive in nature, but we’ll have to see more details than this brief statement to know for sure.
Poltico reports the deal is off to the House, sped by its overwhelming bipartisan passage in the Senate. Despite the Senate vote, a number of conservative House Republicans have already come out against the measure, meaning it will likely pass only with the help of the Democratic minority–which could force Speaker John Boehner to abandon his standing rule that bills should only come to a vote with the support of “the majority of the majority.”
Although Republican leaders have been non-committal about when the bill will come to the floor, and whether it will be amended, there could be implications if a vote slips to Wednesday. Financial markets are closed Tuesday for New Year’s Day, and reopen Wednesday. If the Senate bill isn’t signed into law, that could shake market confidence.
For the time being, Congress has sent the nation over the fiscal cliff. The Senate passed its bill after 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, so over the cliff the country went – though perhaps for only a day or two and, assuming no snags, without incurring the double whammy of another recession and higher unemployment.
The $620 billion agreement was a major breakthrough in a partisan standoff that has dragged on for months, spooking Wall Street and threatening to hobble the economic recovery. It turned back the GOP’s two-decade-long refusal to raise tax rates, delivering a major win for President Barack Obama, who has said he would sign this legislation.
We’ll update when the House takes action (or not).