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In Late-Night Session, House Passes Bill To Avoid Fiscal Cliff

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The U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday night passed emergency legislation to avert the "fiscal cliff" that would have raised taxes on all Americans and brought deep cuts to government programs.

A day after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure in a 2 a.m. vote, House members passed the legislation 257-167, with 85 Republicans and 172 Democrats supporting the bill. One hundred fifty one Republicans and 16 Democrats voted in opposition.

Shortly after, President Barack Obama thanked lawmakers for their vote.

"I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest two percent of Americans, while preventing a middle class tax hike that could have sent the economy back in recession and obviously had a severe impact on families all across America," Obama said.

The agreement will preserve Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 and couples earning less than $450,000, and will put off budget cuts for two months – setting up what could be another similar battle later this winter.

Additionally, unemployment insurance will be extended, along with the current estate tax exemption.

The deal also raises the threshold for the alternative minimum tax, permanently linking it to inflation and prevents a spike in milk prices.

"Reconciling our differences was a monumental task especially with the time growing short," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"This is no profile in courage for me to be voting for this bill," Democrat Charles Rangel of Manhattan told reporters. "We created this monster."

A compromise looked unlikely Tuesday afternoon amid reports that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor didn't support the bill after a two-hour closed-door meeting with GOP leaders. But Republican House Speaker John Boehner voted in favor of the deal, as did House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

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