Congress Sends Payroll Tax Cut to Obama's Desk
House, Senate easily approve extension
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2012 11:41 AM CST
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio talks about an accord on the payroll tax cut negotiations Thursday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – No last-minute Capitol Hill surprises: Congress today passed legislation renewing a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and jobless benefits for millions more, backing the main items on President Obama's jobs agenda in a rare burst of Washington bipartisanship. The Senate approved the $143 billion measure by a 60-36 vote. That tally came minutes after the House approved it by a sweeping 293-132 vote. Obama is expected to sign it into law shortly after returning from a West Coast fundraising swing.

Under today's measure, workers would continue to receive a 2-percentage-point increase in their paychecks, and people out of work for more than six months would keep jobless benefits averaging about $300 a week. It would also head off a steep cut in reimbursements for physicians who treat Medicare patients. Click to read how the bill might result in ... faster Internet connections.