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House Republicans Begin Private Meetings

CongressWASHINGTON (AP) — Now in the spotlight, House Republicans are meeting behind closed doors to decide their next move after the Senate overwhelmingly approved compromise legislation avoiding a fiscal cliff of across-the-board tax increases and sweeping spending cuts to the Pentagon and other government agencies.

The Senate endorsed the legislation early today, 89-8. That vote came hours after Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky sealed a deal.

It would prevent middle-class taxes from going up but would raise rates on higher incomes. It would also block spending cuts for two months, extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, prevent a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevent a spike in milk prices.

As GOP lawmakers met privately to gauge support for the accord, Biden tried selling the deal in a separate closed-door gathering of House Democrats.