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U.S. Senate passes "fiscal cliff" deal

English.news.cn   2013-01-01 15:28:20            
 • The U.S. Senate passed a plan to avert the "fiscal cliff" at midnight Monday.
 • The plan would extend current tax rates for most American households.
 • The deal would postpone the automatic spending cuts for two months.


WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate passed a plan to avert the "fiscal cliff" at midnight Monday, which would extend current tax rates for most American households and postpone the automatic spending cuts that threaten a new recession.

The bill cleared the Senate with a 89-8 vote. It came about two hours after the Dec. 31 deadline had lapsed.

An agreement emerged at Monday night after a day of intensive negotiations as both parties made last-ditch efforts to bridge differences.

The plan would prevent tax rate rise on individuals with annual income below 400,000 U.S. dollars and households making up to 450,000 dollars.

Meanwhile, the start of 1.2 trillion dollars in automatic spending cuts over 10 years, known as the "sequester," would be put off for two months. It had been scheduled to begin with the new year.

Under the deal, jobless insurance which benefits about 2 million long-term unemployed people would be extended for a year.

The Republicans dropped their long-term resistance to higher tax rates and accepted a delay in spending cuts, while the Democrats compromised on the income threshold for tax rise and softened their stance on estate taxes.

The plan still needs approval from the House of Representatives that would adjourn till Tuesday noon and a vote is expected on Tuesday at the earliest. It is uncertain whether it would get enough GOP support.

"The House will honor its commitment to consider the Senate agreement if it is passed. Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members -- and the American people -- have been able to review the legislation," House GOP leaders said in a joint statement.

"We're going to still have more work to do. We still have deficits that have to be dealt with. We're still going to have to think about how to put our economy on a long-term trajectory of growth," U.S. President Barack Obama said earlier on Monday.

The failure of a deal in the Congress by Tuesday meant that the United States technically fell off the "cliff" at least temporarily. But analysts said the lawmakers could take retroactive measures in the following days to reverse the situation.


Commentary: Over the "cliff," the real devil is "fiscal abyss"

BEIJING, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- After coming too dangerously close to the "fiscal cliff," U.S. politicians have reportedly reached a deal to avoid sharp tax increases and deep spending cuts.  Full story

White House, Republicans reach deal on fiscal cliff: U.S. media

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- The White House and Senate Republicans have reached a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff," U.S. media reported Monday night.  Full story

Commentary: Frustrating fiscal talks expose deficiencies of U.S. political system

by Ming Jinwei

BEIJING, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The American people were once better known for their ability to make tough choices on difficult issues.

So it was really frustrating for many people in this part of the world when they woke up on the first day of 2013 and found out U.S. politicians had once again failed to reach a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff". Full story

Obama says "fiscal cliff" deal "within sight" but "not done"

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (Xinhua)-- U.S. President Barack Obama said here on Monday that an agreement to avert the "fiscal cliff," particularly the impending tax hikes for middle-class Americans, was "within sight" but "not done" yet.

"Today it appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year's tax hike is within sight, but it is not done. There are still issues left to resolve, but we're hopeful that Congress can get it done," Obama said at the White House.  Full story

Editor: Hou Qiang
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