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Senate Tax Vote

Senate Tax Vote - The Senate on Wednesday approved the $858 billion tax plan negotiated by the White House and Republican leaders, and House Democrats said they expected to pass the bill Thursday after a final, seemingly futile effort to change a provision that benefits wealthy estates.

The Senate vote was 81-19 as Democrats yielded in their long push to end the Bush-era tax rates for high-income taxpayers. Republicans agreed to back a huge stimulus package, including an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and a one-year Social Security payroll-tax cut for most workers, with the entire cost added to the deficit.

House Democratic leaders said they would bring the bill to the floor Thursday along with an amendment to tax more estates at a higher rate. Democrats privately predicted the amendment would be rejected and the package approved, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not ready to concede.

Senate Tax Vote

"We will make our point," she said at a news conference Wednesday night, repeating her opposition, shared by many Democrats, to the provision granting a tax exemption to estates of up to $5 million per person, or $10 million per couple.

While many Democrats said the money used to continue reduced tax rates on the highest incomes could be better spent on other steps to stimulate the economy, they made clear their initial fury at the prospect of extending those rates had given way to acceptance that the White House, its leverage weakened by election losses, had negotiated the best compromise it could.

Senate Tax Vote

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