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 McConnellLindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' 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 ReidDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda Justice Breyer issues warning on remaking Supreme Court: 'What goes around comes around' 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 UdallOvernight Defense: Milley reportedly warned Trump against Iran strikes | Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer killed in Afghanistan | 70 percent of active-duty military at least partially vaccinated Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Senate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin 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 CoburnBiden and AOC's reckless spending plans are a threat to the planet NSF funding choice: Move forward or fall behind DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office MORE (R-Okla.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot MORE (D-N.Y.), Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganInfighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Biden's gun control push poses danger for midterms MORE (D-N.C.), Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinFCC needs to help services for the deaf catch up to videoconferencing tech Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa MORE (D-Iowa), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dead at 85 MORE (D-Mich.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyDemocrats revive filibuster fight over voting rights bill Senate backers of new voting rights bill push for swift passage Stacey Abrams backs Senate Democrats' voting rights compromise MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants MORE (I-Vt.), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE (R-Ala.) and Mark UdallMark Emery UdallKennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' 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.