White House, lawmakers reach fiscal cliff deal

Agreement, if approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives, will delay harsh spending cuts by two months.

US Congress 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
US Congress 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Dec 31 (Reuters) - The White House and congressional lawmakers have reached a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" that would delay harsh spending cuts by two months, Obama administration officials said on Monday.
President Barack Obama called Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who both signed off on the deal, one source said.
The agreement includes a balance of spending cuts and revenue increases to pay for the delay in the automatic spending cuts that would go into effect without a deal by lawmakers.
Of those spending cuts, 50 percent would come from defense and 50 percent from non-defense areas, the sources said. The White House viewed that as a victory, one source said, and sees it as a model for future deficit reduction pacts.
Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss the deal. Democratic senators emerged from a meeting with Biden late on Monday saying there was strong support for quickly passing legislation aimed at averting the fiscal cliff.
Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and Senator Charles Schumer, of New York, who is a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, both said the Senate would aim to pass the newly struck deal by a midnight deadline.
If it passes the Senate, the House of Representatives would still have to approve it. A vote in that chamber could come on Tuesday.