President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged the House of Representatives, which has a Republican majority, to approve the bipartisan agreement reached by the Senate to get the United States out of the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts.

The Senate, which has a Democratic majority, voted 89-8 to approve a package that will keep tax rates at their current level for the middle class and postpone deep cuts in defense and domestic programs.

"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," Obama said after the Senate voted on the legislation.

The House is expected to begin debate on the bill around noon on Tuesday.

The Senate deal approved early Tuesday retains current tax rates on income up to $450,000 a year, exempts estates worth less than $5 million from inheritance taxes and extends unemployment benefits.

"We do not think taxes should be going up on anyone. But we all knew that if we did nothing, they would be going up on everyone today," the top Republican in the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell, said.

"We were not going to let that happen," the Senate minority leader said. EFE