Senate passes fiscal-cliff fix hours after midnight deadline; political gamesmanship moves to the House

“This deal is far from perfect,” said Montana Democratic Sen. John Tester in a similar statement, “but it provides the tax relief Montanans deserve while preventing irresponsible cuts that would hurt our kids and seniors.”

“This deal — while not perfect — at least gives families and businesses the certainty they need to make spending plans and budgets for the new year,” echoed Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.

The House of Representatives will not vote on the bill until later on Tuesday. House Republican leaders made it clear that they would not be rushed into voting for a bill that they had not had time to vet fully, and did not make any commitment to support it. (RELATED — Bait and Switch: In face of fiscal cliff, Obama demands spending boost for 2013)

“The House will honor its commitment to consider the Senate agreement if it is passed,” Speaker of the House John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a joint statement shortly after 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

“Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members — and the American people — have been able to review the legislation.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted: “When a final agreement is reached and passed by the Senate, I will present it to the House Democratic Caucus.”

President Obama called it a victory, if an imperfect one, in a statement early Tuesday morning.

“Leaders from both parties in the Senate came together to reach an agreement that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support today that protects 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small business owners from a middle class tax hike. While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay,” he said.

“There’s more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I’m willing to do it,” he added. “But tonight’s agreement ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest Americans. And as we address our ongoing fiscal challenges, I will continue to fight every day on behalf of the middle class and all those fighting to get into the middle class to forge an economy that grows from the middle out, not from the top down.”

It remains unclear whether the bill will have the votes to pass the House.

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