House Passes Middle-Class Tax Cuts, But Efforts Continue on Senate Bill

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The House voted 234-188 to pass legislation that would make permanent the reduced tax rates enacted in 2001 and 2003 on the first $200,000 in income for individuals or $250,000 for couples, though the legislation is seen as doomed to fail in the Senate. Despite the long odds for passage, Senate Finance Chairman Baucus says the Senate will consider the House bill because Democrats want to send a message about extending the tax cuts for only middle-class households. “I think it's the prevailing view that it's important to pass the middle-income tax cuts alone,” Baucus says. “It's very important. That's where we are.” White House officials, in a background briefing with reporters, say they want to emphasize that there is more under discussion with the negotiating team than just the individual income tax rates. Instead of focusing on only whether to extend the top tax rates, the officials make their case for also extending unemployment insurance benefits and the tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the HIRE Act.