House And Senate Vote To Extend Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefits
MSNBC.COM - Congress on Friday approved a two-month renewal of payroll tax cuts for 160 million workers and unemployment benefits for millions, handing President Barack Obama a convincing victory for his jobs agenda.
Back-to-back voice vote approvals of the measure by the Senate and House capped a retreat by House Republicans who had insisted that a full-year bill was the only way to prevent an immediate tax increase on Jan. 1.
The measure passed despite lingering grumbling from Tea Party Republicans. It buys time for negotiations early next year on how to finance a year-long extension of the 2 percentage point Social Security payroll tax cut.
It will keep in place a salary boost of about $20 a week for an average worker making $50,000 a year and prevent almost 2 million unemployed people from losing jobless benefits averaging $300 a week.
The payroll tax rate will now be kept at 4.2 percent until the end of February. It had been slated to increase after December 31 to 6.2 percent.
Analysts had warned that failing to renew the tax cut could jeopardize the economic recovery, perhaps even risking another recession.
Passage in the House — Friday's action on the measure took less than a minute — capped a swift retreat by House Republicans. Their move to force a holiday season confrontation with Obama and Senate Democrats had threatened to hit 160 million workers with a tax increase on Jan. 1. But it backfired badly.
Just 24 hours earlier, House leaders had insisted the only way to
prevent that tax hike and a phase-out of jobless benefits for people out
of work for more than six months was to pass a full-year renewal. click here to read more
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