The United States was able to breathe a sigh of relief as Congress finally passed a bill to steer taxpayers away from the fiscal cliff on Tuesday night.
85 Republicans from the House of Representatives, including Texas Representative Mac Thornberry, joined 172 House Democrats in passing the bill which made current tax rates for 98% of Americans permanent.
Thornberry said waiting until the last moment wasn't necessary. He said, "That was ugly and unnecessary in my opinion to come right up to the edge." We asked the congressman if situations like that could be avoided in the future. He said, "People believe strongly in these things so they want to hold out their position. I wish there was a better way to do it."
The bill locks in tax rates for individuals making less than $400,000 a year couples making less than $450,000 a year. Those making more than that will see their rates jump 4.6%.
The bill also does not address the Payroll Tax Cuts of the last 2 years which have now expired, meaning many Americans could see a smaller paycheck.
Congress will also be facing the debt ceiling and sequestration - sweeping and automatic cuts in federal spending.
Thornberry said the focus now has to be on spending. "Now that taxes have been settled I think the next several weeks and months we will focus on spending and getting spending under control is the key to reducing our debt."