HAPPENING TODAY: Senate Preps For Tax Vote - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

@ This Hour: Senate Preps For Tax Vote

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama Wednesday urged lawmakers to approve the compromise tax package he negotiated with Republican leaders.

Saying he is convinced that the legislation will spark growth, Obama acknowledged differences on "both sides of the aisle" and said "that's the nature of compromise."

In remarks at the White House, Obama said the package "can't afford to fall victim" to a delay or a defeat.

"I am absolutely convinced that this tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help our economy and create jobs in the private sector," Obama said. "It will help lift up middle-class families who will no longer have to worry about a New Years' Day tax hike."

Senators made speeches into the evening Tuesday about the package and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, confirmed that the final vote would take place Wednesday.

But as senators cleared the way for the pivotal vote, House Democrats argued about whether they will change the measure after an expected Senate approval.

The proposal received strong bipartisan support in clearing a key Senate procedural hurdle Monday, with an 83-15 vote to end debate.

The package includes a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire December 31, and also would extend unemployment benefits for 13 months, cut the payroll tax by 2 percentage points for a year, lower a restored estate tax, and continue a series of other tax breaks.

The estate tax -- currently scheduled to exempt inheritances up to $1 million and tax amounts above that at a rate of 55% -- would be reduced under the tax package to a rate of 35 percent on amounts above a $5 million exemption.

Republican leaders argue that a full return of the estate tax would, among other things, make it nearly impossible for many family-owned small businesses to be passed down from one generation to the next.

House and Senate liberals have repeatedly argued that a lower or nonexistent estate tax would merely benefit the wealthy while doing little to aid the economy. House Democrats want to change the estate tax to levels previously approved in a separate House bill that would exempt inheritances up to $3.5 million and tax amounts above that at a 45 percent rate.

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