Minutes after the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan Senate deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" and preserve Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans making less than $400,000 per year, President Obama praised party leaders and wasted little time turning to the next fiscal fight.
"This is one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy for everybody," Obama said.
Obama lamented that earlier attempts at a much larger fiscal deal that would have cut spending and dealt with entitlement reforms failed. He said he hoped future debates would be done with "a little less drama, a little less brinksmanship, and not scare folks quite as much."
But the president drew a line in the sand on the debt ceiling, which is set to be reached by March.
"While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether they should pay the bills for what they've racked up," Obama said. "We can't not pay bills that we've already incurred."
An hour after his remarks, Obama boarded Air Force One to return to his planned Hawaiian holiday vacation, reuniting with his family, who have been vacationing there since just before Christmas.
House Republicans agreed to the up-or-down vote Tuesday evening, despite earlier talk of trying to amend the Senate bill with more spending cuts before taking a vote. The bill delays for two months tough decisions about automatic spending cuts that were set to kick in Wednesday.
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