‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Approved By Congress, President Barack Obama Returns To Hawaiian Vacation

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    President Barack Obama flew back to join his the family at their holiday home in Hawaii on Wednesday night after Congress approved legislation to avert big income tax increases on most Americans.

    Obama hailed the result of the vote, approving legislation that raises taxes on only the wealthiest Americans while avoiding the “fiscal cliff” of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts, Reuters reported.

    He had cut his vacation short on Wednesday to oversee negotiation of a deal before a year-end deadline.

    More from GlobalPost: Obama cuts vacation short to resume fiscal cliff talks 

    The Senate passed the deal two hours after midnight on Jan.1, formally missing the deadline to avoid spending cuts and tax rises.

    As New Year’s Day was a federal holiday, the deal needed only the approval of Congress to stave off the effects of the plunge.

    More from GlobalPost: Fiscal Cliff: Senate passes deal two hours after midnight

    The measure, which will also prevent big cuts in spending for the Pentagon, was approved 257 to 167, according to The New York Times.

    Eighty-five Republicans joined 172 Democrats in approving the first income tax rise in two decades.

    Obama — while lamenting that the deal did not address the broader issues involving spending and debt — reportedly said “we are continuing to chip away this problem step by step.”

    He called on Republicans to agree on further tax revenues and spending cuts, adding:

    “The one thing that I think hopefully the new year will focus on is seeing if we can put a package like this together with a little bit less drama, a little less brinksmanship and not scare the heck out of folks quite as much.”

    He also warned Republicans not to use an upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling to push for spending concessions.

    “While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up through the laws they have passed. Let me repeat we can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred.”

    As he left the White House briefing room to board Marine One on the South Lawn, he told reporters, “Happy New Year, everybody.”

    He boarded Air Force One about 30 minutes after his remarks at the White House, USA Today reported, and was scheduled to arrive in Honolulu early Wednesday morning to rejoin Michelle and the couple’s two daughters.

    This story was originally published by Global Post.

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