Federal funding for programs such as Title I, Head Start, students with disabilities, and higher-education research will remain intact—for now—after Congress approved an 11th-hour deal to avoid tumbling off the “fiscal cliff.”
The extraordinary New Year’s Day approval of a compromise bill hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure.
Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and the national debt, as it puts off mandatory across-the-board cuts to domestic programs for a period of only two months.
Capping a holiday season political spectacle that featured enough high and low notes for a Broadway musical, the GOP-run House voted final approval for the measure by 257-167 late on Jan. 1. That came after the Democratic-led Senate used a wee-hours 89-8 roll call to assent to the bill, belying the partisan brinkmanship that colored much of the path to the final deal.
“A central promise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the expense of working middle-class Americans,” Obama said at the White House before flying to Hawaii to resume his holiday break. “Tonight we’ve done that.”
(Next page: Details of the agreement)