Way cleared for tax cut bill; energy breaks added
WASHINGTON — The White House and key lawmakers in both parties cleared the way tonight for swift Senate action to avert a Jan. 1 spike in income taxes for most Americans, agreeing to renew expiring breaks for ethanol and other forms of alternative energy.
Tax provisions aimed at increasing production of hybrid automobiles, biodiesel fuel, energy-efficient homes, coal and energy-efficient household appliances would be extended through the end of 2011 under the bill, according to a summary that circulated in Congress.
Officials said debate could begin on the measure within hours. There was no timetable for a final vote, but the decision to expand the scope of the original bill capped days of secret negotiations aimed at increasing support.
The events unfolded as the White House predicted that the deal President Barack Obama struck with top Republicans would clear by year’s end — even though House Democrats voted today not to allow it to reach the floor without changes to scale back tax relief for the rich.
“If it’s take it or leave it, we’ll leave it,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, after a closed-door meeting in which rank-and-file Democrats chanted, “Just say no.”
“The deal will get passed,” said presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs. There were no predictions to the contrary among senior Democrats on either side of the Capitol.
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