Writing for the Associated Press, Alan Fram has called it "Congress' excruciating, extraordinary New Year's Day approval of a compromise."
The U.S. Senate approved the bill first by a bipartisan margin: 89–8. Three Democrats and five Republicans voted against. The House passed the bill by a vote of 257–167. Note again the bipartisanship: 85 Republicans and 172 Democrats voted in favor while 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats were opposed.
The final votes on the bill came near the last possible minute on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day: just before the end of the Congressional session. (All pending legislation expired when the 112th Congress ended at 12 noon on January 3, 2013.)
Reactions have been strong... and mixed:
Janet Hook of The Wall Street Journal wrote: "the compromise bill... represented the largest tax increase in the past two decades."
On the other hand, Jonathan Weisman wrote in The New York Times that the compromise "makes permanent virtually all of the Bush tax cuts — a goal that Mr. Bush chased through the rest of his presidency."
You are a well-informed, engaged citizen... what are your thoughts on the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 - IS THE COUNTRY BETTER OFF BECAUSE OF THE DEAL?