The US House of Representatives, in the waning days of Democratic control, passed an extension on Thursday of Bush-era tax cuts for the lower and middle classes in a symbolic vote that would let tax cuts for the wealthiest expire.
The measure, which passed 234-188, is expected to die in the US Senate, where Republicans have the votes to block it. Twenty Democrats voted against the House bill and three Republicans voted for it.
Despite the likely outcome, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have held a vote on the House bill yesterday, Democratic aides said.
Senators may also vote on a Republican alternative that would permanently extend all the tax cuts. A compromise measure offered by Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, which would let the top tax rates expire only on income above US$1 million, could also be voted on, according to aides.
All of these measures are expected to fail as congressional leaders and US President Barack Obama’s administration continue talks behind closed doors on a potential compromise.
“The talks are ongoing and productive, but any reports that we are near a deal in the tax cut negotiations are inaccurate and premature,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
Most Democrats say Republicans were willing to jeopardize low tax rates for middle and lower-income taxpayers to ensure low taxes for the wealthiest in the US.
The tax cuts were signed into law by former US president George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, and are set to expire Dec. 31.
“The Republicans want to continue to keep middle-income tax cuts hostage until it is combined with upper-income tax cuts,” said Democratic Representative Sander Levin.
Republicans say allowing any tax rates to rise would threaten the economy, which is suffering from high unemployment rates.
On Capitol Hill, senior -Democratic aides said they did not expect any significant progress until at least next week.
Another aide said many Democrats were worried the White House would not stand up to Republicans.
Many people, including some Democratic aides, who asked not to be identified, believe a one-to-three year extension of all the Bush-era rates is the most likely scenario.
In exchange, Obama administration officials hope to win Republican consent to an extension of long-term unemployment insurance and to Senate ratification of the new START nuclear treaty with Russia.
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
‘LEAST WE CAN DO’: The gesture was made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality that targeted minorities They are images that surprised and moved Americans: police officers taking a knee alongside protesters in the most widespread civil unrest to rock the US in decades — and in doing so embracing an anti-racism gesture denounced by US President Donald Trump. As Trump pushes for a crackdown on often-violent protests over the death of George Floyd, police officers from New York to Los Angeles to Houston, Texas, are making gestures of solidarity with demonstrators incensed at the latest case of an unarmed black man dying while in police custody. “I took off the helmet and laid the batons down. Where do
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about