Legislation that extends soon-to-expire provisions of last year's tax cuts for families -- at a cost of about $146 billion over a 10-year period -- easily sailed through Congress late yesterday.

House lawmakers approved the measure by a 339-65 margin, while the bill breezed through the Senate chamber 92-3.

The bill extends several individual tax cuts set to expire at the end of this year, including the $1,000 child tax credit, which would have dropped to $700; tax breaks for two-income married couples to reduce the marriage penalty; and expanding the lowest, 10 percent tax bracket to cover more taxpayers.

Businesses also got a boost with the addition of $13 billion in what have been termed "business extenders."

Dissenters, however, maintain the package will only increase the federal deficit, which is expected to hit a record $420 billon.

The measure will now be sent to President Bush.

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