News / USA

House Passes Obama Tax Cut Compromise

In this photo rendered from video via C-SPAN, shows the final vote tally on the bill to avoid income tax increases on Jan. 1
In this photo rendered from video via C-SPAN, shows the final vote tally on the bill to avoid income tax increases on Jan. 1

The House of Representatives has passed a sweeping federal tax bill based on a compromise crafted by President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, despite passionate opposition by many liberal members of the president's own Democratic Party.  The Senate passed the tax legislation easily on Wednesday, meaning the bill will now go to the president for signing.  The vote on the bill was 277-148.

It was a high stakes showdown on  the floor of the House of Representatives and the final vote came at midnight.  

The legislative battle crossed party lines and saw Democratic lawmakers openly rebelling against their own Democratic president and their own leadership in Congress.  A House vote expected much earlier in the day was abruptly postponed for hours after liberal members who oppose the bill were enraged at efforts by party leaders to limit opportunities for them to express their dissent.

The legislation extends Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans for two years, even the wealthiest,  although the president and Democratic lawmakers originally had hoped to extend tax cuts for individuals for only the first $200,000 they earned in a year.

The $858 billion measure also extends unemployment benefits for 13 months for the long-term unemployed and imposes a two percent cut in payroll taxes.  The president negotiated the compromise with a group of Republican lawmakers headed by Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell and pushed hard for Congress to pass it, saying it is crucial to fuel economic growth and create jobs.

Many of the liberal Democratic members voted for an amendment, that ultimately failed, that would have raised the rate for the inheritance tax for multi-million dollar estates.  If the amendment had passed, the bill would have gone back to the Senate, throwing the whole compromise into doubt.

Democratic Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts summed up the argument expressed by many  liberal Democrats that it is immoral in times of economic hardship for so many working class Americans to give more tax breaks to millionaires.

"We have children go to sleep at night hungry, in the richest country in the world, we should be ashamed of ourselves.  We can do better than add to the deficit by giving more tax cuts to the wealthy," he said.

Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon complained bitterly that the legislation will add almost $1 trillion to the already soaring U.S. national debt.

"Every other major industrial nation on earth is talking about buckling down a little bit and austerity measures and having a sustained recovery.  No, not here.  We got out the credit card.  A trillion dollars.  Well, no it's only $858 billion," he said.

The compromise came just weeks after Democrats suffered major losses in November elections across the country, losing majority control of the House of Representatives and losing some seats in the Senate.  Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California said that for Democrats, the basis for negotiating deals will worsen when the new Congress begins in January.

"If we do not send this bill to the president's desk this year, he will certainly sign a worse bill next year," he said.

Republican Mike Pence of Indiana said his vote against the bill was difficult, but necessary.

"We all know what we should be doing today, is voting to extend all the current tax rates permanently.  The reality is that uncertainty is the enemy of prosperity," he said.

Other Republican lawmakers voted for the bill, saying they did not agree with all of it, but they do not want taxes to go up for all Americans at the beginning of the year.

For the first two years of his presidency, President Obama relied on a broadly-unified Democratic caucus in Congress to pass sweeping health care legislation, financial reform legislation and many other bills, many of them without a single Republican vote.  Now, the president says voters have shown that they want their leaders to compromise and work together across party lines to tackle the severe economic challenges the United States is facing.

Both the House and the Senate would have liked to have finished up their agenda this week to leave town for the holiday recess, but they still have to fund the federal government for the current fiscal year.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs