RPT-U.S Senate nears key vote on Obama tax package

* Key Senate procedural vote set for Monday
* Critics and backers see congressional passage
(Repeats story moved earlier on Monday, adds link to factbox
on key provisions of package in 7th paragraph)

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON, Dec 13 (BestGrowthStock) – The Democratic-led U.S.
Congress moved on Monday toward grudging approval of President
Barack Obama’s deal with Republicans to extend expiring tax
cuts, even for the wealthiest Americans.

Backers were expected to muster on Monday the needed 60
votes in the 100-member Senate to clear a procedural hurdle,
before passage on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The bill would then go to the House of Representatives for
likely passage — despite complaints from many Democrats that
Obama conceded too much to Republicans.

The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, said
Democrats should “eat their spinach” and accept a deal because
their influence will plummet when the new Congress convenes
next month.

Republicans won control of the House and made gains in the
Senate in Nov. 2 congressional elections.

“It is the only stimulus we can bring to this economy,”
Durbin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday.

Proponents note that the $856 billion package also extends
jobless benefits and provides other tax breaks aimed at
lower-income families, and would renew a wide array of
subsidies and breaks for businesses and renewable energy.

The deal would extend all tax cuts passed under the
Republican administration of President George W. Bush,
including those for wealthier Americans, that are set to expire
on Jan. 1.

Democrats had hoped to allow tax rates to rise for the
wealthiest 2 percent of U.S. households to avoid increasing
the country’s record-high deficit.

Democrats are particularly angry that Obama agreed to what
they see as an excessively generous inheritance tax exemption
on wealthy estates.

But Representative Chris Van Hollen, a member of the House
Democratic leadership, said, “We’re not going to hold this
thing up at the end of the day.”

Van Hollen, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” indicated that
Democrats would like to get a separate vote on the inheritance
tax, a provision that he said would cost $25 billion for just
6,600 people.

“That doesn’t help the economy,” Van Hollen said. “It hurts
the deficit.”

White House adviser David Axelrod said he believed the
House would approve the package without significant changes.

“We believe that when it comes back to the House that we
will get a vote and it will prevail there,” Axelrod said on

The Senate began debate on Thursday on a slightly reworked
version of the president’s plan, adding, for example,
incentives for renewable energy.

Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, appearing on
CBS’s “Face the Nation,” likened Republicans to political thugs
in blocking an extension of tax cuts for the middle income
unless they are also renewed for the rich.

“I think the alternative is to say we’re not going to
submit to that blackmail and let the president and the
Democrats go to the people, who the polls show want the
upper-end tax cuts not to continue but want the middle-class
tax cuts, and say, don’t submit to the blackmail,” Nadler
(Additional reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Vicki
Allen and Philip Barbara)

RPT-U.S Senate nears key vote on Obama tax package