The House of Representatives, acting with uncommon speed, has given final approval to a bipartisan bill that will avoid a scheduled rise in income taxes for millions on the first of January. The vote was 277-148 late last night on the legislation, which is the result of a compromise between President Obama and top Republicans. The bill also cuts federal Social Security pension taxes for nearly every wage earner in 2011, and renews a program of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
After forcing a delay in the House early in the day, Democratic critics settled for a separate vote in their bid to toughen an estate tax provision they attacked as a giveaway to the very rich. They were defeated, 233-194. "The president will be able to sign it as soon as he likes," said Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey, who added later on the House floor that he would support "an imperfect bill" in hopes of stimulating job creation. The Senate passed the bill 81-19 on Wednesday.