Democrats in the U.S. Senate pushed for and succeeded in the passage of a bill to extend tax cuts for the middle class.
The Democratic bill was approved Wednesday by a near party-line 51-48 vote, and Vice President Joe Biden presided over the chamber just in case his vote was required to break a tie, The Associated Press reported.
The measure was passed soon after a rival Republican plan to include the best-off in the tax reductions was defeated 54-45 in the Senate.
When the Democratic bill goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives next week, it will certainly be rejected. "The House will vote next week to stop that tax hike, and until the Senate does the same, the threat to our economy remains," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement following the vote on Wednesday.
Democrats seemingly pushed for the measure just to allow President Obama to say to voters in the run-up to the Nov. 6 presidential election that his party got the measure passed but Republicans prevented his party from implementing it. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said, "Now the ball is in Speaker Boehner's court. The Senate has spoken, the message is clear: 'put the middle-class first.'"
"With the Senate's vote, the House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and nearly every small business owner," Obama said in a statement.
However, the passage of the Democratic bill also allows Republicans to say that the Democratic Party doesn't care for businesses. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said, "Thank goodness it's not going anywhere because it would be bad for the economy, the single worst thing we could do to the country."
The $250 billion Democratic measure seeks to extend tax cuts for another year that are otherwise set to expire in January. But those tax cuts are not meant for individuals whose annual earnings exceed $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000 yearly.
Under the Democratic measure, individuals earning over $200,000 and couples making at least $250,000 would see their top rates on those earnings rise from 33 percent and 35 percent today to 36 percent and 39.6 percent in January.
Republicans in the House are now expected to pass a bill similar to their $405 billion measure the Senate rejected Wednesday.