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New tax bill passes in U.S. House

WASHINGTON D.C. - Wisconsin paychecks will get bigger next year as the result of a sweeping tax relief package approved by the U.S. House late last night. All three Wisconsin Republicans voted yes and all five Democrats voted no, as the House sent the bi-partisan bill to President Obama 277-148.

Democratic critics held up the package earlier in the day, to try and reduce an estate tax exemption which they called a giveaway to the rich. They agreed to a separate vote on the matter - and the House went against the cut-back 233-194. Appleton House Democrat Steve Kagen joined the state's three Republicans in opposing it.

The package includes a one-year reduction in Social Security taxes, a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, a host of tax breaks to encourage business investment and jobs, and a one-year extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed. About eight-thousand Wisconsinites a week had lost their jobless benefits when they expired at the end of November. The federal subsidy for ethanol also continues. Republicans who will take powerful posts in the House next month urged their colleagues to pass the tax package. They included Janesville's Paul Ryan, who will chair the House Budget Committee. But Milwaukee Democrat Gwen Moore said the Social Security tax break would threaten that program, and she feared the Bush tax cuts would become permanent.