Jan 2, 2013 7:20 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News

Congress passes fiscal cliff bill, Montana delegates' vote split

Late New Year's Day the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill preventing the nation from falling off the "fiscal cliff."

However, some Republicans opposed the bill because they believe it didn't contain a significant amount of spending cuts.

U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R MT) was one of 167 House members who voted against the measure.

The U.S. Senate passed the bill late on New Year's Eve.

Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) both supported the deal.

There are several components to the bill.

First, the Bush-era tax cuts expired on New Year's Day, raising taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year. So, the bill reinstates those tax breaks for individuals who make less than $400,000 a year.

The plan also includes a 9-month extension of the Farm Bill and addresses estate taxes, which were also set to increase on January 1. Under the plan, inheritances under $5 million will not be taxed, which includes many Montana farms and ranches.

The Congressional Budget Office reports the bill adds $4 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years, which was the major point of contention for Republicans who believe Congress needs to rein in spending.

The bill defers the automatic spending cuts that were supposed to take place at the beginning of the year for another two months. CBS News reports Congress will be debating budget cuts again very soon.

Senator Baucus says the bill isn't perfect, but it protects Montana families from tax hikes.

"Now, we've got to hunker down and keep working to create jobs and cut the debt. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we can get it done," Baucus adds.

Senator Tester says, "This deal is not the big, long-term, bipartisan solution to cut our debt that the American people expect from Congress. I'll keep working on a responsible plan to cut our debt without jeopardizing our economy."


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