December 13, 2010 / 11:17 PM / 9 years ago

Steps for tax deal to pass Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A deal President Barack Obama cut with Republicans to extend expiring Bush-era tax cuts headed on Monday toward passage in the Democratic-led Congress.

Here is a look at how the legislative process may unfold on Capitol Hill in coming days, leading up to sending the measure to Obama to sign into law before the current tax rates expire on January 1:

* A slightly reworked Senate version of the deal mustered the needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate on Monday to clear a procedural hurdle. That allows senators to begin voting on it after 30 hours, likely meaning approval by the Senate on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Senate version reflects the basic terms of the Obama-Republican deal. It would renew all expiring tax cuts, even for the wealthiest Americans, while extending jobless benefits and other tax cuts for workers, college students and businesses. Senators made some changes, like adding a subsidy for ethanol. But they left untouched an estate tax provision that many Democratic critics see as too generous to the very rich.

* Once the bill clears the Senate, it will go to the House of Representatives for consideration. House Democratic leaders intend to refer the measure to the Ways and Means Committee for possible changes. A top target is the estate tax provision, which Democratic leaders want to tighten to make it less generous to multimillionaires and billionaires.

* It is unclear, however, if there will be enough votes in the House to change the estate tax or any other provision. If the House ends up approving the Senate-passed bill without any revisions, the measure would go to Obama for his signature.

* If the House makes any changes, the legislation would have to go back to the Senate for approval. The measure could end up getting “ping-ponged” between the House and Senate a few times before a final agreement is reached.

* Congressional leaders would like to finish the bill this week so they can wrap up their work for the year and head home for the holidays by Friday or Saturday.

* But lawmakers could have plenty of more time if they want or need it. In theory, this Congress could be in session until the new one that was chosen at the November 2 midterm elections begins at noon eastern time on January 5.

Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Vicki Allen

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