U.S. senators worked into the new year and at 2 a.m. Jan. 1 passed legislation that would postpone sequestration cuts until late March. (Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
The U.S. Senate early Jan. 1 overwhelmingly approved a measure that partially averts the fiscal cliff and delays deep cuts to projected defense and domestic spending.
The upper chamber, shortly after 2 a.m., voted 89-8 in favor of a measure that extends tax cuts for individuals who earn $400,000 or less annually and couples who make $450,000 and below, while delaying pending twin $500 billion cuts to projected Pentagon and domestic spending.
The 11th-hour measure, passed several hours after the U.S. technically plunged over the so-called fiscal cliff, also includes provisions reforming the estate tax and capital gain tax.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Joe Biden brokered the deal, which delays by two months the defense and domestic spending cuts.
Late on Dec. 31, Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain, R-Ariz,, told Defense News that congressional and White House negotiators had yet to identify the specific way in which they would pay for delaying the defense and domestic cuts.
Still, McCain indicated GOP leaders and the White House "basically" had secured a deal by 6 p.m. on the last day of 2012. But because the House soon after adjourned for the night without voting on the McConnell package, the world's lone superpower technically is dangling over a so-called fiscal cliff of its own making.
While the Biden-McConnell package has passed the Senate, it remains unclear whether it will pass the House. The lower chamber is slated to be in session Tuesday, but it had yet to schedule a fiscal cliff/sequestration vote.
The House was slated to convene at 12 p.m. EST Jan. 1. Just after 11 a.m., House GOP leaders released the day’s floor schedule. The Biden-McConnell bill was not included on the docket.
House members say they want time to review the legislation. The measure is expected to pass on the back of Democratic support. It will need 217 votes to pass. The House has 201 Democratic members, meaning some Republicans will have to support the measure.