Biden meets with House Dems to shore up support for deal

Vice President Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered reporters hearty "Happy New Year" wishes but no predictions of House passage for the Senate's "fiscal cliff" bill as they entered a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus early Tuesday afternoon.

When the party's chief vote counter, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), was asked if leaders would have the votes to help pass the Senate measure, he simply let out a loud laugh and continued walking.

Other Democrats predicted strong support from the party whenever Republican leaders bring the legislation to the floor.

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The Senate approved the $4 trillion legislation by a vote of 89 to 8 early Tuesday morning, and President Obama said the legislation will “grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way.”

The bill would reduce government revenues by nearly $4 trillion over the next 10 years compared to current law, but increase revenues by $620 billion compared to current policy.

House Republicans plan to meet at least twice on Tuesday before party leaders decide whether to accept or try to amend the Senate bill, a GOP leadership aide said. 

The first meeting is at 1 p.m.

“The purpose of this meeting is to review what the Senate has passed, discuss potential options, and seek member feedback," the leadership aide said. "No decision on the path forward is expected before another member meeting that will be held later today.”

Biden negotiated the deal with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). It will extend the Bush-era income rates for family incomes up to $450,000 a year and a host of other tax rates and breaks.

Labor unions and liberal groups such as the AFL-CIO and MoveOn.org have voiced opposition to the bill, but House Democrats are expected to vote en masse for it.

Biden met with Senate Democrats at 9:15 p.m. Monday to persuade wavering lawmakers, but in the end did not have to do much convincing.

“Vice President Biden, he was very persuasive but he did not have to do that much convincing,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, predicted there would be strong support within the Senate Democratic Caucus for the bill.

“The vote last night set the stage,” he said in a CNN interview.

Levin predicted Biden would reiterate the president’s vow to resist Republican demands for spending cuts in connection with an effort to raise the debt ceiling.

Obama said Monday, “If Republicans think that I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone, and you hear that sometimes coming from them, that sort of after today we're just going to try to shove only spending cuts down, well — shove spending cuts at us that will hurt seniors, or hurt students, or hurt middle-class families, without asking also equivalent sacrifice from millionaires or companies with a lot of lobbyists, et cetera — if they think that's going to be the formula for how we solve this thing, then they’ve got another think coming.”


—Russell Berman contributed to this report.

This report was originally published at 11:15 a.m. and last updated at 12:50 p.m.