For awhile, it looked like the Obama-GOP tax deal was going off the rails in the House on Thursday, but Democrats righted the ship as lawmakers joined to send that bill on to President Obama.
The final tally was 277-148, another strong bipartisan majority in favor of the bill, which was approved earlier this week in the Senate by 81-19.
“With nearly one in 10 Americans out of work, acting to ensure no American’s taxes go up on January 1st was critically important,” said House GOP Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who takes over as Speaker in less than three weeks.
Both parties provided a majority of votes for the bill, as Democrats went 139-112 for the tax deal; Republicans voted 138-36 for it.
“We absolutely cannot allow taxes to go up come January 1,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi in debate before the vote. But Pelosi made clear to fellow Democrats that she did not like the details of the White House agreement when it came to extending tax rates for the wealthy.
“They will have to make their own decisions as to whether it is necessary to be held hostage to pay a king’s ransom in order to help the middle class.”
One interesting note is that Pelosi did not vote last night.
By custom, the Speaker often does not vote unless it is a very important bill, or to break a tie. Pelosi has voted much more often than many Speakers, but this bill did not rise to that level of import.
The vote ended a topsy-turvy battle in the Lame Duck session of Congress on what to do about the Bush tax rates, jobless benefits and much more, as the $857 billion plan had members of both parties aggravated.
“There are a lot of things in this bill I don’t like,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH). “But the question today, Mr. Speaker, is do we let the perfect be the enemy of the good?”
Tiberi voted aye, as the Ohio delegation went 13-5 for the bill.
Down South in Florida, it was another bipartisan show, as lawmakers from the Sunshine State went 18-6 for the bill.
“My constituents are upset that the tax cuts aren’t permanent,” said retiring Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite. “Many of them believe I should vote against this bill.”
But Brown-Waite stuck with the deal and voted yes. The no votes in Florida were an interesting mix, with Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd, liberals like Corrine Brown, Alan Grayson and Alcee Hastings, and then two Republicans, Gus Bilirakis and Connie Mack.
In Georgia, it was an even more unusual mix, as five Democrats joined three Republicans in voting for the bill. On the no side were four more conservative Republicans, Linder, Graves, Broun & Gingrey, along with one of the most liberal Democrats in the House, John Lewis.
At this point in a story like this, it would be time to write, “The vote was a big victory for….”
But even after covering this non-stop the last five weeks, it’s not entirely clear who was the big winner. Some thing the GOP came out on top with the estate tax and tax rates for top income earners.
Others think that Democrats ended up with the better end of the stick.
One thing is for sure. We’re going to battle it out over this again in 2012.