House to vote on "fiscal cliff" tonight

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrive to a second Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin

Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET

The House will hold a straight vote on the "fiscal cliff" bill passed by the Senate overnight - a major step in finally averting several effects of the "cliff."

If the bill passes the House, it moves on to President Obama for his signature, ending weeks of fighting about how to deal with the tax hikes and spending cuts that began hitting the country today.

It wasn't easy getting to this point today in the House. After meeting with the Republican conference and listening to members' concerns, House Speaker John Boehner presented them with two options, a GOP leadership aide said: The first option would be to offer an amendment to the Senate bill that would add a $323 billion package of spending cuts. If GOP leaders couldn't muster enough support for the amendment idea, the second option would be to vote on the Senate bill as-is.

As it turned out, House Republican leadership scuttled the amendment idea and announced they would vote on an unamended version of the Senate bill.

Earlier in the day, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, declared his opposition to the Senate-passed "fiscal cliff" deal, threatening to put the deal in peril. 

"I do not support the bill," Cantor said walking out of a conference meeting in which House Republicans discussed the "fiscal cliff" deal passed in the Senate overnight.

A number of other House Republicans today expressed serious concerns about the lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill, CBS News' Jill Jackson reports. Some GOP members said they would vote against the deal for that reason. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report today estimating that the Senate bill would add $329 billion to deficits in 2013 and $3.9 trillion to deficits over the next 10 years, relative to current law.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said after today's first conference meeting that the lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill "was a universal concern amongst members."

"The Speaker and Leader laid out options to the members and listened to feedback," Buck said. "Conversations with members will continue throughout the afternoon on the path forward."

Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., said on her way out of the afternoon meeting, "What we want is to do what's best for the American people. When you talk about balance, you've got to provide responsible spending restraint for the long term. This bill doesn't have that."

Other Republicans today said they would vote for the Senate bill because it represents the best deal possible and takes the president's best leverage -- taxes -- off the table. It locks in the Bush-era tax rates for more than 98 percent of Americans and sets the stage for a major negotiation over spending cuts in the next two months.

Lawmakers had hoped to resolve any uncertainty over the so-called "fiscal cliff" before financial markets reopen Wednesday, but Cantor's opposition puts the fate of the deal in doubt. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear when the House would vote on the Senate bill.

"We're waiting here on the House doing something finally on the cliff, we hope," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a brief appearance on the Senate floor today.