By Justin Sink - 01/02/13 02:45 PM EST
"There were elements of the bill that I did not like," Israel told CNN's "Starting Point." "But at the end of the day, it was House Democrats who injected some adult supervision, some pragmatism, a sense of compromise and solutions. That’s what the country wants."
House Republicans were split on the bill, with 85 — including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — voting in favor. But 151 voted no, including high-profile defectors like Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
"The best they could do was 85, 86 votes," Israel said. "So even though they have the majority in the House of Representatives, it was House Democrats who stopped us from going off this cliff.”
The late-night vote will indefinitely extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts on all household income under $450,000, extend unemployment insurance and delay automatic spending cuts for another two months.
Israel also blasted House Republicans for tabling a vote on Hurricane Sandy aid until the next Congress.
Republican leaders have argued the $60 billion Senate bill was bloated with excess spending, while a bipartisan group of legislators from New York and New Jersey — the areas hardest hit by the storm's landfall — have urged quick passage of the relief bill.
"Just when we avoided one cliff, the House Republicans threw us over another," Israel said. "We rushed to aid ... Kabul and Baghdad when they had damage, but when it comes to aid to New York and New Jersey, the House Republican leadership decided we weren't worth it. It is indefensible."