Ahead of two votes in the House of Representatives on Republican-backed spending and tax bills, Senate Democrats ripped into House Speaker John Boehner's so-called "Plan B," calling the proposals to avoid going over the fiscal cliff a "nonstarter" in the upper chamber and deepening the partisan impasse ahead of a year-end deadline to avert a series of automatic tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts.

In what figures to be a largely symbolic vote, the House on Thursday evening appears ready to pass one bill that would preserve the current, Bush-era tax rates for all households earning less than $1 million a year, and another that would replace looming cuts to defense spending with alternative reductions in spending targeting a variety of federal programs.

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