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Fiscal Cliff: Can the House Follow Through?

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It was after midnight, but not by much. In a town and for a Senate that has become synonymous with gridlock, the two parties came together for an imperfect solution to a big problem.

After several days of hurried last-ditch negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), it took only a few hours of hand-wringing and legislative arm twisting for the Senate to pass a bill that would avert the tax hikes and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff.”

But the legislation faces an uncertain future in the House, where Republicans have been more committed to opposing any and all tax hikes.

Republicans in the House will meet at 1 p.m. in a closed session to consider the Senate-passed fiscal cliff deal. It probably won’t be clear until after that meeting if or when there could be a vote in the House on the bill.

House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi each offered terse statements long before the Senate voted 89-8 to pass their hurriedly written bill.

Neither offered support for the bill. Boehner’s statement, which was cosigned by his entire leadership team, said only:

“The House will honor its commitment to consider the Senate agreement if it is passed.  Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members — and the American people — have been able to review the legislation.”

Beyond the difficulty of getting House Republicans to support the bill, which includes higher tax rates, that point about the American people being able to review it could be a tough one for some House Republicans to get around. They had accused Democrats of hatching their health reform bill in private and pledged when they took control of the House in 2010 to make all legislation publicly available on the House website for 72 hours before a vote.

For Democrats, the road could be easier. A White House official told Jonathan Karl that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had signed off on the proposal before the Senate vote.

But she has not publicly endorsed it.

“I understand at the present time Senate Democrats are meeting with the Vice President,” Pelosi said in a written statement about four hours before the Senate vote. “When a final agreement is reached and passed by the Senate, I will present it to the House Democratic Caucus.”

ABC’s John Parkinson, who covers the House, thinks it will take more than 100 Democrats to support the bill if it can get to the floor.

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