President Obama and congressional leaders repeatedly expressed optimism that they would strike a deal on taxes and spending, but they failed to pass a bill before Jan. 1. 

After much partisan bickering, Congress instead passed a bill on New Year's Day. 


A timeline of the "fiscal-cliff" debate since the Nov. 6 election follows.

Nov. 6: President Obama wins reelection; Democrats pick up seats in the House and Senate.

Nov. 8: Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWhite House seeks to shield Biden from GOP attacks on crime issue Lobbying world Warner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights MORE (D-Nev.) says, “We are not going to mess with Social Security” in fiscal-cliff deal.

Nov. 8: Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerGOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger Freedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children MORE (R-Ohio) delivers carefully worded speech via teleprompter, offers $800 billion in revenue. He tells ABC News, "The election's over. Now it's time to get to work."

Nov. 11: Conservative pundit Bill Kristol says on "Fox News Sunday," "It won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.”

Nov. 13: Obama offers plan of $1.6 trillion in tax revenue and $400 billion in spending reductions. 

Nov. 15: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Trump takes two punches from GOP MORE (R-Ky.) calls Obama’s proposal a "joke."

Nov. 16: Reps. BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerGOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger Freedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children MORE and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sens. Reid and McConnell meet with Obama. Leaders express optimism, say the meeting was "constructive." Stock market reacts favorably.

Nov. 27: Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) calls on his colleagues to pass Obama’s tax plan. Boehner and other GOP leaders say they disagree with Cole.

Nov. 29: Rank-and-file Republicans break with conservative activist Grover Norquist and the tax pledge he has spearheaded.

Nov. 29: Amid impasse, Reid says he doesn’t “understand [Boehner’s] brain.”

Dec. 3: Obama tells Cole at White House Christmas party, “Seriously, I will go further on this thing than you guys think.”

Dec. 3: House Republican leaders make counteroffer that would cut $2.2 trillion from the deficit with a combination of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and $800 billion in new tax revenue.

Dec. 3: House GOP cracks whip, bounces four members off panels in effort to foster unity.

Dec. 4: White House press secretary Jay Carney calls GOP fiscal-cliff deal “magic beans and fairy dust.” Democrats insist that increasing tax rates must be part of any agreement.

Dec. 6: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says on CNBC that the Obama administration is willing to go over the cliff if GOP doesn’t bend on tax rates.

Dec. 6: McConnell filibusters his own amendment to allow the president to increase the debt ceiling after Democrats appear to have the votes to pass it.

Dec. 7: Pelosi meets with Obama at the White House.

Dec. 11: Obama predicts GOP will cave on taxes.

Dec. 13: Obama and Boehner meet. Deal appears to be within reach as Boehner compromises on tax rates and Obama puts Social Security adjustment on the table and moves tax threshold from $250,000 to $400,000.

Dec. 18: Boehner says he will move to a “Plan B” on the fiscal cliff by having the House vote on legislation to extend tax rates on annual income under $1 million.

Dec. 19: Obama invokes Connecticut shootings to prod Congress on fiscal cliff: “If this past week has done anything, it should give us some perspective.”

Dec. 19: Boehner says Plan B will pass.

Dec. 19: Norquist says Plan B does not violate Americans for Tax Reform pledge.

Dec. 20: Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorBottom line Virginia GOP candidates for governor gear up for convention Cantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' MORE (R-Va.) says Plan B will pass.

Dec. 20: Obama says, "Take the deal."

Dec. 20: Lacking the votes, Boehner cancels vote on Plan B bill. Boehner says it’s up to the Senate to act.

Dec. 21: Obama meets with Reid and talks with Boehner via phone. He tells the press that lawmakers should cool off over Christmas — "drink some eggnog, eat some Christmas cookies" — and then address the fiscal cliff. Obama heads to Hawaii for Christmas and returns Dec. 26.

Dec. 26: The Treasury Department announces the U.S. government will hit the $16.4 trillion debt limit on Dec. 31 and will have to resort to “extraordinary measures” to continue borrowing.

Dec. 27: Reid says it is likely too late for Congress to pull the nation back from the fiscal cliff.

Dec. 28: Congressional leaders meet with the president at the White House. Obama says he is "modestly optimistic" fiscal-cliff deal can be reached as Reid and McConnell seek to reach an agreement.

Dec. 28: Stocks close lower for the fifth straight day amid fears there will be no deal on the fiscal cliff.

Dec. 30: McConnell and Reid fail to reach an accord amid disagreements on Social Security, defense sequester and estate tax. McConnell calls Vice President Biden to jump-start talks.

Dec. 31: Before stock market opens, reports indicate there is major progress on a deal. When markets close, no bill has been released and congressional aides acknowledge that the U.S. will go over the cliff. Earlier in the day, Obama had criticized Congress at a White House event, infuriating some Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Dec. 31: Biden and McConnell finalize deal that sets tax rate threshold at $450,000 for families and $400,000 for individuals. Pact also delays sequester, but does not include significant spending cuts.

Jan. 1: The Senate passes the deal, 89-8. House Republicans vow to review Senate-passed bill.

Jan. 1: House Republicans balk at $4 trillion bill and consider amending it. Lacking the votes, House GOP leaders schedule vote on Senate legislation. It passes, 257-167, with the support of only 85 Republicans. Boehner votes yes while Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) vote no. Obama holds press conference with Biden to tout the passage of the measure.