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The Senate passed late Wednesday legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year—or 98% of Americans.
President Obama had asked Congress on July 9 to take up legislation to do just that.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2012, which passed the Senate by a 51-48 vote, should be taken up by the House and passed “immediately.” The Republican proposal, which would have extended the Bush tax cuts for everyone, including those earning more than $250,000, failed in a Senate by a vote of 45-54.
Said Reid in a statement: “There is absolutely nothing stopping House Republicans from passing the Senate’s plan, if they possessed the courage to do the right thing for middle-class families.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said in a statement that the legislation “guarantees that millions of American families don’t see a tax hike come January, including 400,000 people in my home state of Montana. It also extends critical tax breaks for the middle class, helping families afford college, cover their bills and provide for their children.”
Congress can “get serious and find a way to work together” on tax reform by starting with “the House taking up the Senate bill to extend middle-class tax cuts,” Baucus said. “We can then work together in conference committee to reach a compromise, providing an opportunity to avoid the fiscal cliff. Hard choices need to be made and everyone needs to contribute.”
The Republican-controlled House is expected to take up the legislation next week and is widely expected not to pass it.