After delays and much debate, House members today voted 277-148 to pass the Senate’s version of the H.R. 4853 tax bill and send it to President Obama.
Earlier, House members voted 194-233 to block efforts to add an estate tax amendment proposed by Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., to the bill.
The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) phased out the estate tax this year. Under EGTRRA rules, the estate tax was set to spring back to 2001 levels, with a $1 million personal exemption and a 55% top tax rate, in 2011.
The Pomeroy amendment would have set the personal exemption at $3.5 million and the top rate at 45% for 2 years.
The version of the bill that passed in the Senate Wednesday would set the personal exemption at $5 million and the top rate at 35% for 2 years.
Another provision would help life insurers continue to defer paying income taxes on foreign income that they have not brought to the United States.
Obama administration officials negotiated the measure with Republican congressional leaders. Obama has indicated that he dislikes many provisions in the bill but believes he must support it to keep a variety of tax incentives that help working families from expiring in January 2011, and to preserve extended unemployment insurance benefits for at least 13 more months.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who with her husband is estimated to have a net worth over $15 million, argued on the floor that Republicans were holding provisions that could help most Americans hostage for the sake of passing provisions that would help a small number of wealthy Americans.
“That’s 6,600 wealthy families who are holding up tax cuts for 155 million Americans,” Pelosi said. “We have to borrow the money from China and send the bill to our children and grandchildren. Is that fair?”
Pelosi later apologized about the cost of the bill to Americans’ children, their grandchildren and the Chinese government.