Senate passes tax package 81-19, sending Obama deal to the House

 Senate passes tax package 81-19, sending Obama deal to the House

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to pass an $858 billion tax relief and benefits package, giving the bipartisan deal political momentum as it heads to the House.

The Senate voted 81 to 19 in favor of the deal struck by President Obama and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellStudy: Trump tops recent GOP presidents in signing bills in first 100 days Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again MORE (R-Ky.).

“Middle class families need a boost in this economy, and that is exactly what this plan gives them," Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (D-Nev.) said in a statement after the vote. "It is not perfect, but it will create 2 million jobs, cut taxes for middle class families and small businesses, and ensure that Americans who are still looking for work will continue to have they safety net they rely on to make ends meet."

The legislation now heads to the House, where Democrats are debating whether to rewrite the estate tax provision and substitute a 45-percent tax on estates over $3.5 million.

A House Democratic aide said the bill would be posted on the Rules Committee site by mid-afternoon Wednesday. Leadership aides in the House said it is not expected to receive a vote until Thursday.

The package extends almost all of the Bush tax cuts, including income tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest families, for two years and sets the estate tax at 35 percent for individual inheritances of more than $5 million.

It extends federal unemployment benefits for 13 months at a cost of $56.5 billion and cuts the Social Security payroll tax 2 percent, giving workers a $120 billion tax break for 2011.

Senate passage of the tax deal was all but assured after 83 senators voted on Monday evening to end an effort to delay it. All of the senators who opposed moving forward on the package Monday also voted against final passage. They were joined by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Tom UdallTom UdallIT modernization bill reintroduced in Congress Overnight Energy: Trump orders review of national monuments, claiming ‘egregious abuse’ Dem vows to fight Trump 'every step of the way' on national monuments MORE (D-N.M.), who voted to end the filibuster on Monday but voted against final passage.

The senators who voted against final passage were Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Tom CoburnTom CoburnFreedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential MORE (R-Okla.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general Senate approves Trump's Agriculture chief Dems urge Trump to include Northeast Corridor tunnel project in infrastructure bill MORE (D-N.Y.), Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (D-Iowa), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl LevinCarl LevinFor the sake of American taxpayers, companies must pay their fair share What the Iran-Contra investigation can teach us about Russia probe Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral MORE (D-Mich.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Energy: Trump set to sign offshore drilling order Sanders: Trump couldn't be 'more wrong' on climate Overnight Energy: Trump orders review of national monuments, claiming ‘egregious abuse’ MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersNRA head: Sanders 'a political predator' What would Bernie say to Wall Street for 0K? Sanders warns of possible nuclear war with North Korea MORE (I-Vt.), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsNew chief selected for Justice Department unit overseeing Russia probe Sessions: Some judges ‘using the law to advance an agenda’ Sessions on Flynn: ‘You don’t catch everything’ MORE (R-Ala.) and Mark UdallMark UdallPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' Election autopsy: Latinos favored Clinton more than exit polls showed MORE (D-Colo.).

“My concern is that what happens in the Senate often is the short term becomes the enemy of the long term,” said Wyden. “This makes it tougher to deal with the debt and tax reform. At some point you have to break the procrastination.”

Retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) has called for all of the Bush-era tax cuts to expire to give Congress motivation to take up tax reform.

The co-chairmen of President Obama’s fiscal commission called for tax reform in a draft proposal earlier this year. They suggested eliminating all tax breaks and lowering the individual and corporate income tax rates.

The Senate went in the other direction Wednesday. The tax package includes a slew of business and energy tax relief provisions, such as the research and development tax credit; the ethanol tax credit; the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax credit; the energy efficient homes tax credit; and cash grants for the wind and solar energy industry.

The package also includes a provision allowing businesses to deduct 100 percent of the cost of certain investments in 2011. It would also fix the Alternative Minimum Tax to shield an estimated 21 million taxpayers from higher taxes.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday the lopsided Senate vote to cut off a filibuster of the package had given it political momentum.