Reporting from Washington — The Senate has passed legislation that would temporarily extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts and renew unemployment benefits for 7 million Americans, moving the compromise package on to the House of Representatives.
Despite qualms from members of both parties in the House, final congressional action seems possible by week's end. The exact timing will depend on whether Democrats are successful in efforts to amend the package.
The final vote in the Senate was 81-19.
In addition to the tax rate and unemployment insurance extensions, the bill would trim the payroll tax by 2 percentage points for a year and reinstate the estate tax, but at a lower rate than was in force before it lapsed at the end of 2009.
The Senate earlier defeated amendments that would have made tax cuts permanent, or extended tax cuts only on the first $250,000 in income.