On Dec. 15, 2010, the United States Senate, by a vote of 81 to 19, passed H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. Included in the bill are a number of extensions to expired and expiring tax incentives including the well-known Bush tax cuts (see previous blog post here for a summary of the contents of the bill).
Three motions for amendment for the bill were considered and rejected. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced an amendment to make all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) offered an amendment to eliminate tax cuts for the top 2 percent of households, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) proposed to pay for the unemployment insurance extension through spending cuts. The bill is expected to be taken up by the House as early as Dec. 16, 2010.
Although clearing the Senate removes one major hurdle for the bill, passage of the bill in the House is not a given. Republican leadership has indicated reluctance to vote for the bill should any amendments be made. However, comments from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) indicate that House Democrats may be considering employing a procedure known as "dividing the question" to enable separate votes on different components of the bill. Failure to pass the bill as passed by the Senate could endanger Congress' ability to pass the bill before the year's end.