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The last debt-ceiling battle led to the sequester, a kind of fiscal doomsday device that Congress was supposed to disarm by agreeing to more than $1 trillion in other cuts over the next decade. They didn't, leaving federal agencies preparing to slash spending by $110 billion by the end of the 2013 budget year.
Before Tuesday night, the Defense Department had been preparing to issue furlough notices for its entire civilian work force of 800,000. Those notices were stayed on Wednesday -- but Pentagon officials say they're worried that unpaid leave may be harder to implement later in the fiscal year.
"We hope Congress can find a way to end sequester once and for all," Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
While the deal gives Obama bragging rights for raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans -- the first rate increase for any Americans since 1993 -- it also leaves him breaking a promise.
Obama had vowed to raise tax rates for the top-earning 2% of Americans, including those with household income above $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000.
Raising the threshold for higher tax rates shrinks the number of Americans affected. While nearly 2% of filers have adjusted gross incomes over $250,000, only 0.6% have incomes above $500,000, according to the Tax Policy Center.
By comparison, Census Bureau figures put the median U.S. household income at just over $50,000.
And despite the last-minute fiscal cliff agreements, Americans are still likely to see their paychecks shrink somewhat because of a separate battle over payroll taxes.
The government temporarily lowered the payroll tax rate in 2011 from 6.2% to 4.2% to put more money in the pockets of Americans. That adjustment, which has cost about $120 billion each year, expired Monday.
Now, Americans earning $30,000 a year will take home $50 less per month. Those earning $113,700 will lose $189.50 a month.
The legislation also caps itemized deductions for individuals making $250,000 and for married couples making $300,000. Taxes on inherited estates over $5 million will go up to 40% from 35%, and that threshold will be indexed for inflation.
The alternative minimum tax, a perennial issue, will be permanently adjusted for inflation. Child care, tuition and research and development tax credits will be renewed. The "Doc Fix" -- reimbursements for doctors who take Medicare patients -- will continue, but it won't be paid for out of the Obama administration's signature health care law.