Senate Easily Approves Cliff Deal, Delay to Sequestration In Early-Morning Vote

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., triumphantly strides into Senate chamber around 2 p.m. EST Monday to announce a fiscal cliff and sequestration deal that passed the chamber 12 hours later. (John T. Bennett/Defense News)

The U.S. Senate early Jan. 1 overwhelmingly approved a measure that partially averts the fiscal cliff and delays deep cuts to projected defense and domestic spending.

The upper chamber, shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, voted 89-8 in favor a measure that extends tax cuts for individuals who earn $400,000 annually or below and couples who make $450,000 and below, while delaying pending twin $500 billion cuts to projected Pentagon and domestic spending.

The eleventh-hour measure, passed by the upper chamber several hours after the U.S. technically plunged over the so-called fiscal cliff, also includes provisions reforming the estate tax and capital gain tax.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Joe Biden brokered the deal, which delays by two months the defense and domestic spending cuts.

Late on Dec. 31, Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain, R-Ariz, told Defense News congressional and White House negotiators had yet to identify the specific way in which they would propose the defense and domestic cuts would be implemented.

Still, McCain indicated GOP leaders and the White House “basically” had secured a deal by 6 p.m. on Dec. 31. But because the House soon after adjourned for the night without voting on the McConnell package, the world’s lone superpower technically is (as of 2:22 a.m. on Jan. 1) is dangling over a so-called fiscal cliff of its own making.

While the Biden-McConnell package has passed the Senate, it remains unclear whether it will pass the House. The lower chamber is slated to be in session on Tuesday, but it had yet to schedule a fiscal cliff/sequestration vote.

The House is slated to convene at 12 p.m. EST Tuesday; it is expected the lower chamber will vote on the Biden-McConnell plan soon after convening.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett