The House will meet Tuesday to celebrate the new year with a possible vote to approve a bill passed early Tuesday morning, 89-8, by the Senate on the fiscal cliff.
After the Senate’s 2 a.m. vote to approve a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, all eyes are now on the House and whether leaders will pass the Senate’s bill before the markets open on Jan. 2.
“This is honestly, I would argue from a Republican perspective, a compromise,” Rep. Tom Cole said on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon. Cole, a member of the House Budget Committee, was one of the first Republicans to support raising taxes on the highest income earners.
Cole added that discussions between parties would take awhile, but felt that there should be a vote Tuesday. “We know the essential details and I think putting to bed this thing before the markets is really an important thing to do.”
The Senate’s bipartisan agreement would raise income taxes on individuals with annual incomes above $400,000, and on married couples with incomes above $450,000. The bill would also delay sequestration for two months and extend long-term unemployment benefits.
Cole said, from a Republican perspective, he would prefer not to raise taxes on anybody, but was pleased that the majority of Americans would get a break under the Senate’s bill. He noted that he would have preferred a more focused effort in regards to the unemployment benefit extension, but says he believes the Senate’s proposal is a fair compromise.
“We didn’t get everything we wanted, but when you can make 85% of the Bush Tax Cuts secure for 98% of the American people, give everybody rate certainty, and basically take the revenue piece off the table in our negotiations going forward, we ought to take this deal right now,” Cole said.
He added that he felt Rep. John Boehner’s role as Speaker was secure going into the new year, despite talk that his leadership was in jeopardy because of the House’s inability to pass an agreement before the end of 2012.
“I think the Speaker has enormous support and I don’t think he was left out of negotiations at all,” Cole said. “The vice president and certainly the Republican leader [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] were very cognizant this thing has to go through a Republican House, so really John Boehner was a lot of Mitch McConnell’s leverage in this debate.”
Cole said he would “certainly” vote to approve the Senate bill as it stands, and believes that the agreement would put Republicans in a good position going forward with further negotiations as the year begins.
“This is a measured victory. It’s not a complete victory, it’s a compromise–each side got something, but frankly, I can walk away from this one thinking we got a very good deal of what would’ve been a catastrophic situation.”