President Obama Hails 'Cliff' Deal, Warns of Next Fiscal Fight


However, getting the deal done wasn't easy. Before deciding on the up-or-down vote in the House on the fiscal cliff deal, GOP leaders had emerged from a morning conference meeting disenchanted by the legislative package devised by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Mo., and Vice President Biden early this morning, with several insisting they could not vote on it as it stood.

"I do not support the bill," Cantor said as he left the meeting. "We're looking for the best path forward. No decisions have been made yet."

Boehner refused to comment on the meeting, but his spokesman said, "The lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill was a universal concern amongst members in today's meeting."

As lawmakers wrestled with the legislation, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill's added spending combined with the cost of extending tax cuts for those making under $400,000 would actually add $3.9 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. The Joint Committee on Taxation reached a similar conclusion.

The impasse once again raised the specter of sweeping tax hikes on all Americans and deep spending cuts' taking effect later this week.

"This is all about time, and it's about time that we brought this to the floor," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said after emerging from a meeting with Democrats.

"It was a bill that was passed in the U.S. Senate 89-8. Tell me when you've had that on a measure as controversial as this?" she said of the overwhelming vote.

Pelosi could not say, however, whether the measure had the backing of most House Democrats.

"Our members are making their decisions now," she said.

Biden joined Democrats for a midday meeting on Capitol Hill seeking to shore up support for the plan.

While Congress technically missed the midnight Dec. 31 deadline to avert the so-called cliff, both sides expressed eagerness to enact a post-facto fix before Americans went back to work and the stock market opened Wednesday.

"This may take a little while but, honestly, I would argue we should vote on it today," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who sits on the Budget Committee, early Tuesday. "We know the essential details and I think putting this thing to bed before the markets is important.

"We ought to take this deal right now and we'll live to fight another day, and it is coming very soon on the spending front."

The bill extends Bush-era tax cuts permanently for individuals making less than $400,000 per year and couples making less than $450,000 but allows the top marginal tax rate on incomes above those levels to rise to 39.6 percent. Capital gains taxes would rise to 20 percent from 15 percent.

The measure would raise the estate tax from 35 to 40 percent for estates larger than $5 million, prevent the alternative minimum tax from hammering millions of middle-class workers and extend unemployment benefits for one year.

Lawmakers also decided at the last minute to use the measure to prevent a $900 pay raise for each member of Congress due to take effect this spring and avert a spike in milk prices by renewing some farm aid.

The steep "sequester" budget cuts scheduled to go into effect with the New Year -- a $1.2 trillion hit to defense and domestic programs -- would be postponed for two months.

ABC News' Arlette Saenz and Matthew Larotonda contributed reporting.

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