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January 02, 2013

House avoids cliff, Obama heads to Hawaii

The House overcame Republican opposition late Tuesday and passed the Senate's fix to avoid a tumble off the fiscal cliff, ensuring continued income tax breaks for most Americans -- but postponing future fights over cutting spending and the federal deficit.

The vote was 257 to 167: with 85 Republicans and 172 Democrats in favor; Republicans and 16 Democrats opposed.

A buoyant President Obama hailed the news -- his top negotiator Joe Biden at his side -- and praised lawmakers for the move. But he also cautioned them that he won't engage in a fight over raising the debt ceiling -- a stance that some Democrats are worried won't hold.

"I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they passed," Obama said. "If Congress refuses to give the United States government the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic -- far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff."

He closed by saying he hoped the passage of the bill would mean some vacation time for all: "I hope that everybody now gets at least a day off, or a few days off, so that people can refresh themselves, because we're going to have a lot of work to do in 2013."

His seven minute remarks over, he walked across the South Lawn to board Marine One, en route to Andrews Air Force Base and a flight to Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu. He'll be there by 5:15 a.m. local time Wednesday, the White House said, rejoining his family who had stayed after he left last week for fiscal cliff talks.

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