Congress Extends Payroll Tax Cut

GOP and Democrats unite to pass measure; cut extended through year-end.

A coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress united to extend a payroll tax cut through the rest of the year, less than two weeks before it was scheduled to expire.

The Senate today cleared the $145 billion measure 60-36, minutes after the House passed it 293-132. White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama would sign the package “right away.”

The tax break would cost $93.2 billion, which would be borrowed and then transferred from the general fund to Social Security. The cost of the measure’s other provisions would be covered by spending cuts and other changes, and the bill would increase the deficit by $89 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The $30 billion unemployment extension would gradually reduce the number of weeks that recipients can receive benefits, down from the current 99 weeks, according to separate summaries provided by Democrats and Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee. By the end of the year, most states would offer maximum benefits for 63 weeks while people in high-unemployment states would be eligible for 73 weeks of benefits.

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