Republicans overwhelmed divided Democrats to whisk tax breaks for businesses, families and special interests through the House on Thursday as Congress sped toward final votes on a year-crowning budget accord that will also bankroll the government in 2016.
The tax measure, approved 318-109, includes political coups for both parties. More than 50 expiring tax cuts will be extended with more than 20 becoming permanent, including credits for companies’ expenditures for research and equipment purchases and reductions for lower-earning families and households with children and college students.
“Finally with this tax bill, families and businesses are going to have the long-term certainty that they need instead of scrambling year after year to find out what’s next,” declared House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Ryan, who just six weeks ago succeeded former Speaker John Boehner, all but claimed the bill’s passage as a personal triumph, citing it as an example of his drive “to get our House back on track.” The Senate aimed to approve the tax bill Friday.
Both chambers also planned Friday votes on the second leg of the budget compromise, a $1.1-trillion measure financing government, after which Congress was ready to adjourn until January.
While Republicans voted nearly in lockstep for the tax measure, it split Democrats, who opposed it by 106-77. While some Democrats said it was an opportunity to make family tax breaks permanent, others complained it was too skewed toward business. They also said its price tag — exceeding $600 billion over a decade — would swell federal deficits and make money scarcer for domestic programs the party treasures.