Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee introduced on Monday a version of the middle-class tax cut extension legislation that passed the Senate last week.

The legislation, H.R. 15, would extend the Bush tax cuts for households with incomes up to $250,000. It is identical to the version approved last week in the Senate in a 51-48 vote (see Senate Approves Tax Cuts Extension for Middle Class). House Republicans have also introduced their own Bush tax cuts extension bill, which would extend the tax cuts for all income levels. A vote on both bill is expected later this week (see House to Vote Next Week on Dueling Bush Tax Cut Extension Bills).

Separately, Ways and Means Democrats also introduced legislation, H.R. 16, to reinstate the 2009 estate tax provisions, in which there was a top rate of 45 percent and a $3.5 million exemption, to ensure that 99.7 percent of decedents will face no estate tax liability.  The Republican bill spends approximately $9 billion more to provide a complete exemption from the estate tax for 3,600 additional decedents.

Despite the movement in Congress in recent weeks over the tax cuts extension, the two parties are not likely to agree on a deal before the November elections and the lame-duck session afterward.

“The problem we’re having is the deadlock over the middle-class tax cut and whether millionaires need to get the biggest cut out of the tax cut,” said Ways and Means ranking Democrat Sander Levin, D-Mich., during a conference call with reporters Monday. “Until we resolve that, it’s hard. ... As long as there is this strangelehold over action, it's difficult to know how to resolve that.” He expressed similar skepticism over passing a tax extenders bill to deal with dozens of other expiring and expired tax breaks.


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