Senate expected to advance $858B tax, benefits package

The Senate is expected to advance an $858 billion package of tax relief and unemployment benefits Monday afternoon, Democratic and Republican leadership aides said.
 
Senators will begin voting at 3 p.m. to quash a filibuster by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and bring the package up for a final vote.
 

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will hold the vote open to give senators delayed by wintry weather a chance to return to the Capitol. The vote could last for one to a few hours, depending on how long lawmakers remain stranded at their home-state airports.

If Reid musters 60 votes, as expected, that would set up a vote on final passage on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how late the cloture vote lasts Monday. Opponents of the legislation could force a full 30 hours to elapse between the vote to end a filibuster and a vote on final passage.

It remains unclear whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will bring the package to the House floor without making substantial changes to it. The House Democratic Caucus, in a non-binding vote last week, objected to the tax deal negotiated by President Obama and Republicans.
 
Sanders spoke on the floor for more than eight and a half hours on Friday to protest the tax package, which would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for another two years.
 
It would set the estate tax at 35 percent for individual inheritances over $5 million for the next two years, a provision that has drawn strong opposition from Democrats.
 
The package would also extend unemployment benefits for 13 months and cut the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, earning a worker who makes $40,000 an $800 tax break.
 
The deal extends a variety of business and energy tax provisions for two years, including the research and development tax credit, the ethanol tax credit and a grant program for the solar and wind energy industries.
 
It also allows businesses to write off 100 percent of the cost of certain investments.
 
White House officials have circulated projections that the package could help add 1.5 million to 2 million jobs to the economy.