WASHINGTON – House-Senate negotiators late Wednesday approved extending three popular middle-class tax cuts and Republicans, anxious to get the bill to President Bush, predicted swift passage in both chambers of Congress.
The conference panel approved the bill after overriding objections from Democrats who said the tax cuts should be paid for by tax increases in other areas, limiting its impact on the government’s soaring budget deficit.
The tax breaks are estimated to cost the government $145.9 billion over 10 years.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley both predicted quick passage.
The House will take up the measure today. Grassley said the Senate will follow Friday or early next week.
The bill was considered must-pass legislation by Republicans because it will extend three of Bush’s most popular tax cuts, which were all due to expire at the end of this year.
The measure approved Wednesday night will keep the child tax credit at $1,000. It continues an expanded 10 percent tax rate that lowers tax bills for virtually all taxpayers and continues to offer married couples tax savings.
In addition, the measure will also extend for one year relief for the alternative minimum tax, which was intended to make sure that wealthy Americans did not escape paying taxes but is starting to ensnare more middle-income taxpayers.
While Democrats had initially insisted that the measure be paid for by increasing taxes in other areas, Republican supporters of the proposals are expecting the tax cuts to pass both the House and Senate by wide margins. Democrats are not expected to try to block the popular tax relief measure with an election only weeks away.