Final hurdle for tax bill: Is the end in sight?

THURSDAY, DEC. 16, 2010, 2:44 P.M.

WASHINGTON — Acting with uncommon speed, Congress moved toward final passage tonight of sweeping, bipartisan legislation to avoid a Jan. 1 spike in income taxes for millions and renew jobless benefits for victims of the worst recession in 80 years.

The measure also will cut Social Security taxes for nearly every wage-earner and pump billions of dollars into the economy.

The legislation was the result of a reach across party lines by President Barack Obama and top Republicans in Congress — stubborn adversaries during two years of political combat that ended when the GOP emerged the undisputed winner in midterm elections on Nov. 2.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., called the legislation “a bipartisan moment of clarity” as the House moved toward an expected late night vote.

After forcing a delay earlier in the day, Democratic critics conceded the bill was on track to pass.

“The president will be able to sign it as soon as he likes,” said Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey, one of several members of the party’s rank and file who objected to an estate tax provision they called a giveaway to the rich.

The Senate passed the legislation Wednesday, 81-19.

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