The House Ways and Means Committee has passed a bill containing $275 billion in tax cuts as part of the overall economic stimulus package, approving it on a party-line vote of 24 to 13.
The bill includes a $145 billion payroll tax credit that would provide families with up to approximately $83 a month in 2009 and 2010. No Republican on the committee voted for the Democrat-sponsored measure, however. Republicans are readying their own tax proposals for the stimulus package and promising tax breaks for workers and small businesses. Among their proposals are lowering the bottom two tax rates.
President Barack Obama met with Senate and House leaders from both parties on Friday in the White House's Roosevelt Room to try to forge a compromise and said the overall package was on track for passage by President's Day, Feb. 16. "I recognize that there are still some differences around the table and between the adminsitration and the members of Congress about particualr dtails of the plan," he said. "But what I think unifies this group is recognition that we are experiencing an unprecedented, perhaps, economic crisis that has to be dealt with and dealt with rapidly."
Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. (pictured), hailed passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act on Thursday in the committee. "This legislation will provide critical benefits and incentives to middle America, poor America, and businesses, large and small, who are struggling during this economic downturn," he said in a statement. "This plan will go a long way to help relieve the pain these families and businesses are experiencing so that we can restore some confidence and economic security and help America maintain its prominence in the global marketplace."
The plan provides tax relief to working families and help with health care costs, as well as extended unemployment benefits to those who have lost their jobs during the recession. The plan would also give both large and small businesses tax incentives to invest in plant and equipment and expand to hire new workers. The plan also encourages the creation of new jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
It also provides incentives to invest in health information technology and establish standards for interoperability and privacy. It also offers temporary subsidies to help families who have lost their jobs maintain their health insurance through the COBRA program.
The House Appropriations Committee also approved the Democrat-sponsored spending part of the package along a party-line vote. It contains $358 billion worth of spending on infrastructure projects, as well as more federal investment in education and food aid.
In addition, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a third part of the package that provides $100 billion to improve broadband Internet access, and invest in clean energy sources and greater energy efficiency, along with $87 billion to help states pay for Medicaid costs.
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