WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden on Friday urged the Senate to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans, following the example of a politically charged vote by the House of Representatives earlier this week.
Biden addressed reporters at the White House during a meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and budget director Jack Lew, who are leading talks with congressional leaders on a deal to extend Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year.
He did not comment on the status of those talks.
The Senate will vote on two Democratic options to extend some Bush-era tax cuts on Saturday. The measures are likely to fail because of insufficient political support.
The votes will emphasize the divide between the two political parties. Democrats want to renew tax relief for lower- and middle-income Americans while Republicans want to extend them for all taxpayers, including the wealthiest.
On Thursday, the House, which Democrats still control until the end of the year, passed an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for family incomes of up to $250,000.
That measure is unlikely to pass the Senate, which would be required for it to become law.
“I urge the Senate to join the House,” Biden told reporters on Friday.
He said he would discuss with Geithner and Lew how to move forward in the negotiations.
“We’re going to discuss how we move from here. We’re waiting for the Senate vote,” Biden said. “We hope that we succeed in extending a permanent middle-class tax cut.”
Biden said a November jobs report released on Friday proved the need for an extension of tax cuts and of unemployment insurance.
The unemployment rate in November jumped to 9.8 percent, a troubling sign for an economy many had thought was strengthening. Economists had expected 140,000 new jobs last month with the jobless rate holding steady.
“There still is no denying ... that the report is disappointing because we were quite frankly hoping for even stronger job growth,” he said of the jobs report.
Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Bill Trott