Updated, below: Senate passes payroll tax cut, Obama to sign


The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Friday extending a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, avoiding proposed cuts to other welfare programs that were favored by Republicans.

Negotiators announced last night that they were finalizing the $150 billion agreement, which continues a tax cut for over 160 million American workers and maintains jobless aid for millions more -- both major election year promises for President Barack Obama.

The current payroll tax rates and latest round of unemployment benefits are due to expire on Feb. 29. Without the extension, workers would be required to pay 2 percent more of their income in federal taxes, going from the current rate of 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent overnight.

The bill passed by a vote of 293-132, with 41 Democrats voting against it. The payroll tax cut gives the average family between $700-$1,000 in their paychecks per year, according to lawmakers.

The U.S. Senate was expected to pass on the measure later Friday afternoon.

Update: Senate passes payroll tax cut, Obama to sign

Shortly after lawmakers in the U.S. House voted to approve an extension of the payroll tax cut, their colleagues in the U.S. Senate followed up by approving the measure by a vote of 60-36. President Obama is expected to sign the extension soon.