What's holding up a House vote on the fiscal cliff deal?

The U.S. Capitol illuminated at dusk on Capitol Hill on December 31, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

UPDATE: The House voted late Tuesday night to approve a fiscal cliff deal by a tally of 257-167.


The fiscal cliff drama has now shifted to the House, where members are still debating the details of the Senate bill. Bottom line: it raises taxes on some wealthy Americans and it puts off deep spending cuts for another few months.  Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer has been following the drama and discusses the latest news.

"Once again there is gridlock on Capitol Hill. I know you're shocked. Leaders of both parties are trying to get their troops in line. They're trying to support the bill the Senate passed in the very wee hours of this morning. Vice President Biden met with House Democrats today, and he actually camped out for a while," says Marshall-Genzer. "Democrats came out of that meeting today saying it was a very bipartisan bill that was passed in the Senate. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said they were ready to vote on the Senate bill."

But there hasn't been a House vote yet. The main hang-up at this point: some House Republicans say they don't like the Senate bill.

"House Speaker John Boehner has not taken a public position on the bill. Apparently in the meetings that were held today with House GOP members he really didn't say much. He did a lot of listening. Apparently he got a lot of complaints about the Senate bill. But the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he does not support the Senate bill. He actually has come out and said that. A number of House Republicans have complained the Senate bill doesn't cut spending enough, that it focuses too much on tax increases," says Marshall-Genzer.

"Now I know that we do focus on the numbers here at Marketplace, but you have to look behind the numbers a little bit. Yeah they say that they're concerned that the Senate bill doesn't focus enough on cutting spending, but many of these members of Congress are getting a lot of pressure from their districts. Many of their districts are very polarized and the members are afraid that if they're perceived as stepping out of line by voting for the Senate bill that they'll pay later," adds Marshall-Genzer.

Marshall-Genzer says one scenario that could happen: The House could amend the Senate bill and send it back for approval. Meanwhile, what does this mean for taxpayers?

"We did go over the fiscal cliff this morning, so our taxes have already gone up. The Senate bill would have only raised taxes on families making more than $450,000 a year or individuals with incomes over $400,000, but of course that bill is still in limbo. So everybody's taxes have gone up -- technically. That includes the Social Security payroll tax," says Marshall-Genzer.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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