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Tax Cut Extension Passes Senate

It wasn't even close:
The Senate on Wednesday approved a sweeping tax package negotiated by the White House and congressional Republicans, and House leaders - who were looking to amend the measure in a way that would satisfy liberals without unraveling the deal altogether - said a House vote could follow as soon as Thursday.

Before senators began debating the $858 billion package in late morning, President Obama urged lawmakers in both houses to pass it "as swiftly as possible." He called the plan "an essential ingredient in spurring economic growth over the short run."

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It would extend for two years an array of tax breaks enacted during the George W. Bush administration that are set to expire Dec. 31, including benefits championed by Republicans for the wealthiest households. In return, Obama secured another year of emergency jobless benefits and fresh incentives to boost the economy, including a two-percentage-point reduction in the payroll tax for all workers in 2011.