Obama: Senate fiscal cliff bill 'the right thing'

WASHINGTON (AP) - United States president Barack Obama says the "fiscal cliff" agreement reached by the Senate is "the right thing to do for our country" and is encouraging the House to pass it without delay.

The Senate voted 89-8 early on Tuesday to pass legislation to block the impact of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the beginning of the new year.

The legislation would prevent middle-class taxes from rising, and raise rates on incomes over US$400,000 (S$490, 000) for individuals and US$450,000 for couples.

Mr Obama says the bill takes a balanced approach to shrinking the US deficit by "investing in (the) middle class" while "asking the wealthy to pay a little more".

The House is expected to vote on the bill later on Tuesday or on Wednesday.