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Congress Passes Payroll Tax Extension

Both the House and Senate today voted to renew a payroll tax cut that benefits 160 million workers, as well as extending benefits to millions of unemployed Americans.

The Republican-controlled House voted 293-132, followed quickly by a simple majority vote in the Senate.

The measure now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.

Workers would continue to receive the 2 percentage-point cut in the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax — as much as $2,200 for high-income earners.

The Associated Press reports:

Passage of the legislation also hands Obama a political win over objections from many Republicans who oppose it but were eager to wipe the issue from the election-year agenda. Opposition was particularly strong in the Senate, where Republicans signaled they would allow the measure to pass with a simple majority — instead of the filibuster-proof 60 votes typically required. That was a signal they want the measure to pass but don't want to vote for it and the $89 billion it would add to the nation's $15 trillion-plus debt.

Reuters says:

The legislation, which would add $100 billion to the U.S. deficit and is aimed at further stimulating the economy ... next goes to the Democratic-led Senate, where it is expected to pass later in the day.

The New York Times weighs in:

Republicans who said they supported the deal said they had won several important concessions during the talks, such as imposing new conditions and limits on unemployment compensation, and making a significant cut in the preventive-health spending called for by the health care overhaul that Democrats pushed through Congress in 2010.

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