WASHINGTON--The House was headed Tuesday night to vote on the fiscal cliff bill passed by the Senate setting the stage for President Barack Obama to sign legislation making permanent tax cuts for households with incomes below $450,000. The vote comes with only hours to spare, as the new Congress gets sworn in at noon Thursday.
The final vote was expected sometime after 11 p.m. ET.
The expected roll call comes after a hectic day of closed door meetings among House members, highlighted by internal GOP wrangling over whether to try to amend the bill passed early Tuesday morning in the Senate on an overwhelmingly bi-partisan 89-8 roll call.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) cleared the way for the anticipated vote when the decision was made by GOP House leadership for an up-or-down vote--a procedure that is not routine.
The Senate legislation was crafted through negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Biden traveled to Capitol Hill Tuesday--his second visit in less than 24 hours-- to spend several hours briefing Democratic House members.
Meanwhile--at about the same time--the deal was close to unraveling when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House--told his colleagues at their closed door meeting that he opposed the Senate bill.
This set in motion a flurry of GOP House temperature taking --that ended up going nowhere--to see if there were enough House members who wanted to amend the Senate bill in order to install more cuts. One Boehner demonstrated to his hard-liners there just were not enough Republican votes--his lieutenants whipped, or polled the matter--the way was cleared for the up-or-down vote.
The House is expected to approve the tax-and-spending measure on a robust bi-partisan roll call.
The no votes are expected from conservative GOP members who saw the Senate measure as not including enough spending cuts and from the most liberal Democrats who were unhappy that in the bargaining, the income threshold for raising tax rates went to $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for joint filers--up from the $250,000 level Obama campaigned on.