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With Cantor opposed, House vote on fiscal cliff compromise remains in doubt

Resistance from House Republicans, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor, threw into doubt whether a last-minute compromise measure to pull the U.S. back from the so-called fiscal cliff could come to a vote Tuesday.

With just two days to spare, House Republicans were in a series of meetings to figure out how to respond to the Senate's 89-8 vote in the middle of the night to stave off a series of tax increases and steep spending cuts automatically taking effect in the new year.


Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, explains why some House Republicans, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor, opposed the Senate-backed fiscal bill.

Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican behind Speaker John Boehner, told reporters Tuesday that he didn't support the agreement and that no decisions on how to move forward had been made.

Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, told NBC News that while he was personally inclined to vote for the agreement because he didn't want to hold the country "hostage,"  the consensus among his fellow Republicans was that "it's heavy on tax increases and it has nothing on spending reductions."

"From a Republican standpoint, that's not the balanced approach the president was talking about," he said.

A Republican lawmaker told NBC News on condition of anonymity that at the Republican meeting, 37 of 40 members who spoke on the bill opposed it. He said many of his colleagues were demanding "illogical concessions," including billions of dollars in extra spending cuts that Democrats wouldn't be able to live with.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reportedly is opposed to the Senate-approved fiscal bill. NBC's Mike Viqueira reports.

The Republican majority in the House is likely to send the bill back to the Senate with amendments to cut more spending, said Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.

"I would be shocked if this bill didn't go back to the Senate," he said. "I think we're there on more revenue, but, you know, there is more revenue but no spending cuts."

Democratic House members, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, called on Republcans to bring the measure to an up-or-down vote.

The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, meaning it wouldn't consider any House amendments Wednesday.

The 113th Congress, meanwhile, is scheduled to be sworn in Thursday. Unless the current Congress can reach an agreement, the next Congress would have to start fresh to find a fix.

As the Republicans' discussions wore on, House Democrats convened a news briefing to press them to approve the compromise as is.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California called for "a straight up-or-down vote on what the Senate passed last night," saying: "I think that we've made gigantic progress."

And Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., said: "We hope the House will respect the wishes of the people's representatives and allow members to vote."

The Senate measure would raise income taxes on single earners with annual incomes above $400,000 and married couples with incomes above $450,000. It would also block spending cuts for two months, extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, prevent a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevent a spike in milk prices.

The high-stakes drama appeared to have been resolved after days of back and forth between Vice President Joe Biden and Seate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who finally came to an agreement late Monday.

The measure was then taken to the Senate floor, where it passed by an overwhelming majority of 89-8. Senators who voted against it included Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Richard Shelby of Alabama.

NBC's Luke Russert explains why House Speaker John Boehner's meeting with House Republicans is critical to the Senate-approved fiscal deal.

President Barack Obama acknowledged the difficulties the parties had coming to an agreement and pushed the House to quickly approve the bill in a statement just after the Senate vote.

"While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay," the statement said. "This agreement will also grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way — by investing in our middle class, and by asking the wealthy to pay a little more."

Squabbling far from over
Boehner so far has refused to endorse the agreement. Iin a statement issued Tuesday by his office, Boehner and Cantor said, "The lack of spending cuts in the spending was a universal concern among members in today's meeting."

In addition to the battle the legislation faces in the House, there are several other difficult issues that political leaders will be forced to revisit over the coming weeks and months, including cuts to defense and other domestic programs, as well as the debt ceiling, the subject of a mammoth congressional brouhaha last year.

The imposed delay would allow the White House and lawmakers time to regroup before plunging very quickly into a new round of budget brinkmanship, certain to revolve around Republican calls to rein in the cost of Medicare and other government benefit programs.

In a frantic rush of negotiations on New Year's Eve, the Senate voted for a compromise that would increase tax rates on those making above $400,000 a year. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports and NBC political director Chuck Todd offers analysis.

The measure would raise the top tax rate on large estates to 40 percent, with a $5 million exemption on estates inherited from individuals and a $10 million exemption on family estates. At the insistence of Republicans and some Democrats, the exemption levels would be indexed for inflation.

Taxes on capital gains and dividends over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples would be taxed at 20 percent, up from 15 percent.

The bill would also extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for an additional year at a cost of $30 billion, and would spend $31 billion to prevent a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors.

Another $64 billion would go to renew tax breaks for businesses and for renewable energy purposes, like tax credits for energy-efficient appliances.

NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell contributed to this report.