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A weary Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation to avoid the economy-threatening “fiscal cliff” of middle-class tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts hours before financial markets reopen after the New Year’s holiday.

The bill’s passage on a 257-167 vote late Tuesday night in the House of Representatives sealed a hard-won political triumph for the president less than two months after he secured re-election while calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.

Moments later, Obama strode into the White House briefing room and declared that he will sign the law “that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans while preventing tax hikes that could have sent the economy back into recession.”

“A central promise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the expense of working middle-class Americans,” Obama said before flying to Hawaii to resume his holiday break. “Tonight we’ve done that.”

He spoke with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, a recognition of the former senator’s role as the lead Democratic negotiator in final compromise talks with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Passage of the bill came nearly 24 hours after a decade’s worth of tax cuts enacted during President George W. Bush’s administration expired with the stroke of the new year, technically raising taxes by more than $500 billion in 2013 alone.

Those tax increases — plus $109 billion in defense and domestic spending cuts that were to be automatically triggered Wednesday — became known as the “fiscal cliff.” Economists warned that their combined impact would hurl the economy back into recession, but Obama’s signature on the bill would prevent the “cliff” from taking hold.

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article courtesy of TheGrio.com

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