Senate votes to extend Bush tax cuts, unemployment benefits

WASHINGTON (RNN) - As expected, the United States Senate voted to proceed to a final vote on the tax-cut package sponsored by President Barack Obama.

In the procedural vote, H.R. 60 votes were needed in order to move the bill forward to the final vote. That number was easily exceeded.

The bill will extend the Bush-era tax cuts, which will expire on Dec. 31, for an additional two years.

It will also extend unemployment benefits for 13 months, an issue important to Democrats.

Another key provision: Estate tax goes to under 25 percent for those individuals with over $5 million and couples with $10 million.

While the bill has been met with support by Republicans, it's been the subject of staunch criticism by Democrats.

The House Democratic caucus spoke out fiercely against a bill they believe rewards the rich and voted against the president, defeating the bill's passage in their chamber.

Once the bill is passed by the Senate, it must return to the House for final approval.

Last week, former President Bill Clinton appeared in the West Wing in a show of support for Obama.

"I personally believe this is a good deal and the best he could have gotten under the circumstances," Clinton said.

Clinton said he believes it is necessary for the two parties to work together, noting the eminent Republican takeover in January.

"We've played political kabuki for a year, had two government shutdowns," he said. "We can't afford that now."

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