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Congress passes payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits extension


WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - In a rare show of bi-partisanship, both the House and Senate voted to give President Obama the economic reform package he wanted. The House voted 293-to-132, and the Senate voted 60-to-36 to pass an extension of the current Social Security payroll tax cut until the end of the year. The bill also includes an extension of jobless benefits for people out of work more than six months – plus higher reimbursements for doctors who treat Medicare patients. Without Friday's action, all three measures would have expired at the end of February. Wisconsin Senate Republican Ron Johnson voted against the package, while Senate Democrat Herb Kohl voted for it. In the House, GOP budget chairman Paul Ryan voted no along with Republicans Tom Petri and Jim Sensenbrenner and Democrat Ron Kind. Wisconsin Democrats Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore voted yes, as did Republicans Reid Ribble and Sean Duffy. President Obama said the measures will help the economy continue to recover. What workers get from the tax holiday represents around two-percent of their paychecks. Johnson said the last thing he wanted to do was raise taxes on Americans – but he said the package reduces revenues for Social Security, and he thought that was a bad idea. Also, Johnson said he agrees with the Federal Reserve chairman that the bill would add $100-billion this year to the national debt.