WASHINGTON - The House was poised late last night to pass President Obama's sweeping tax-cut compromise, which would send the president a uniquely bipartisan agreement that few would have imagined as one of the last acts of the Democratic-controlled Congress in deeply polarized Washington.
House members struggled through the day to reach final passage and overcome a last protest from liberal lawmakers incensed over the tax deal's benefits for the nation's wealthiest earners.
In the Senate, meanwhile, Democratic leaders called for test votes tomorrow to pass a youth immigration law known as the DREAM Act and to repeal the don't ask, don't tell policy against gays in the military. Leaders called for those votes as an endgame finally began emerging in the lame-duck congressional session.
As the first snow fell on the capital and tempers flared, a coalition of House Democrats and Republicans by nightfall appeared ready to approve the $858 billion tax package that leaves both sides with elements they support and reject.
Nonetheless, the bill swiftly passed the Senate Wednesday, on an 81-19 vote. The overwhelming support in the Senate appeared to soften opposition among reluctant House Democrats and a final vote was expected by this morning.
Obama has campaigned incessantly for passage despite his own opposition to the tax breaks for the wealthy, and was expected to swiftly sign it into law. Doing so would narrowly avoid the tax hike scheduled to hit nearly every American taxpayer on Jan. 1.