Washington — A bill extending three of President Bush's popular tax cuts sailed through Congress on Thursday, underscoring the political maxim that nothing can move legislative machinery like reducing taxes during an election year.
The legislation passed the House, 339-65, and the Senate, 92-3, less than 24 hours after negotiators from both chambers agreed on a final bill.
Bush has pledged to sign the measure -- the fourth tax-cut bill to reach his desk in as many years.
The legislation would extend three income-tax cuts that were to expire this year: an increased child tax credit, expansion of the 10 percent income tax bracket and relief from the tax code's "marriage penalty." It also would extend a number of expired or expiring business tax breaks.
Democrats expressed concern that extending the tax cuts, which have been popular with many middle-income voters, would deepen the federal budget deficit, projected to reach $422 billion this year.
But in the end, most lawmakers found it politically impossible to oppose the measure. The bill's sponsors argued that a vote against was equivalent to a vote to raise taxes.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., accused Republicans of a cynical ploy to get Democrats to vote against tax cuts on the eve of an election.
|Kansas Republicans Jerry Moran, Jim Ryun and Todd Tiahrt and Democrat Dennis Moore all voted in favor of extending the tax cuts.|
"We would vote 'no,' not because we are against the tax cuts, but because we have some sense of responsibility ... to believe in what Republicans used to believe in, and that is a balanced budget," said Rangel, who ended up voting in favor of the bill.