House Passes Payroll Tax Cut Extension
Policy + Politics

House Passes Payroll Tax Cut Extension

The House of Representatives on Friday passed legislation on Friday extending a tax cut for 160 million workers through December and continuing long-term jobless benefits, handing President Barack Obama a major victory.

The legislation, which would add $100 billion to the U.S. deficit and is aimed at further stimulating the economy, was approved by a bipartisan vote of 293-132. It next goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, possibly later in the day.

The House vote caps a fever-pitch debate in Congress that began in earnest in November. Democrats argued the legislation will help grow the economy and provide needed cash to struggling middle class families and workers who have been unable to find jobs amid an 8.3 percent unemployment rate.

Republicans have staked out a series of changing positions as they questioned the effectiveness of the tax cut but ultimately saw that opposition would hurt them in November's congressional and presidential elections.

After a full year of pushing controversial measures to reduce government budget deficits that have been topping $1 trillion annually, many Republicans on Friday found themselves voting for a measure that adds $100 billion to deficits.

But a significant number of the 242 House Republicans - around 90 - abandoned House Speaker John Boehner and voted against the bill.