Senate to vote on spending measure in weekend session
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has approved a two-month extension of a cut to the Social Security payroll tax and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
It's a partial victory for President Barack Obama's year-end jobs agenda.
Democratic and GOP leaders went with just a short extension after failing to agree on big enough spending cuts to pay for a full-year renewal of the payroll tax cut.
The 2 percentage point tax cut affects 160 million taxpayers. The weekly jobless payments average about $300 for millions of people who have been out of work for six months or more.
The measure was approved by an 89-10 vote during a Saturday session.
It also contains a provision demanded by Republicans to pressure Obama into approving construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that promises thousands of jobs.
Dems, GOP opt for short extension
Democratic and GOP leaders opted for just a short extension after failing to agree on spending reductions large enough to cover a full year renewal of the 2 percentage point tax cut for 160 million workers and weekly jobless payments averaging about $300 for millions of people who have been out of work for six months or more.
The legislation is a partial victory at best for President Barack Obama, who's being forced to accept a provision aimed at forcing construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that promises thousands of jobs.
Votes were scheduled for Saturday morning on the measure, along with a final tally to send a $1 trillion-plus catchall spending measure setting the day-to-day budgets of 10 Cabinet agencies. The House cleared the spending bill Friday and will return early next week to vote on the payroll tax measure.
In a statement, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer indicated Obama would sign the measure, saying it had met his test of "preventing a tax increase on 160 million hardworking Americans" and avoiding damage to the economy recovery.
The statement made no mention of the pipeline.
The legislation, commonly available among Washington lobbyists but not yet made public, would require the president to grant a permit, but allows Obama to opt not to do so if he determines that the pipeline is "not in the national interest." One senior administration official said the president would almost certainly refuse to grant a permit. The official was not authorized to speak publicly.
The developments came a few hours after the White House publicly backed away from Obama's threat to veto any bill that linked the payroll tax cut extension with a Republican demand for a speedy decision on the 1,700-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline proposed from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
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