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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks 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 Mason ReidKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill Kamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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 UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallInterior finalizes public lands agency HQ move out West over congressional objections Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Democrats introduce bill to ban chlorpyrifos, other pesticides to protect farmworkers 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 CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnInspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 Congress must protect federal watchdogs Tom Coburn's annual gift to taxpayers MORE (R-Okla.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandExpanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.), Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's job approval erodes among groups that powered his 2016 victory MORE (D-N.C.), Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinErnst challenges Greenfield to six debates in Iowa Senate race Biden unveils disability rights plan: 'Your voices must be heard' Bottom line MORE (D-Iowa), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinInspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 Democrats: A moment in history, use it wisely America's divide widens: Ignore it no longer MORE (D-Mich.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Merkley, Sanders introduce bill limiting corporate facial recognition MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins Connecticut in final presidential primary of year Vermont Rep. Peter Welch easily wins primary Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris MORE (I-Vt.), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsKamala Harris: The right choice at the right time Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris The 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence MORE (R-Ala.) and Mark UdallMark Emery UdallThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Democratic presidential race comes into sharp focus Democrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump 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.