House Democrats passed a tax cut package on Thursday aimed at extending the Bush-era tax cuts for taxpayers who earn below $250,000, but the prospects for passage in the Senate will depend on the deal worked out by a bipartisan group of four lawmakers and two Obama administration officials.
“Today the House took a critical step forward for hardworking middle-income families in need of economic certainty and security,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., in a statement. “Republicans wanted to keep middle-income tax cuts hostage, to combine them with tax cuts for the wealthiest few, but today we freed millions of middle-income families from this hostage situation. This bill is about one thing – tax cuts for people and businesses struggling to rebuild in the wake of a recession. Provisions in this bill will lower taxes for every American taxpayer and small business to help them grow and create jobs. Today the House did the right thing and stood up for those families and businesses and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow suit and pass this tax relief immediately.”
However, Republican lawmakers dismissed the Democrats’ bill as a political stunt. “I'm trying to catch my breath so I don't refer to this maneuver going on today as chicken crap, all right?,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, during a press conference, according to the Associated Press.
The vote was 234-188, with 20 Democrats joining nearly every Republican in opposing the bill.
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., delivered a letter from all 42 Senate Republicans to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., stating that they would not allow any other legislation to proceed until they have passed votes to protect every taxpayer from a tax hike and to continue funding government operations.
“We write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers,” they wrote.
The bill passed by House Democrats on Thursday addresses not only the expiring Bush income tax cuts, but also other issues such as a two-year patch to prevent the alternative minimum tax from spreading to another 25 million families, as well as capital gains and dividend taxes, the so-called “marriage penalty,” education tax credits, the adoption tax credit, employee tax credits for child care, enhanced small business expensing and other items.