WASHINGTON - The House has passed a two-month renewal of payroll tax cuts for 160 million workers and unemployment benefits for millions of jobless, giving President Barack Obama a resounding victory over Republicans who control the House. The Senate approved the bill earlier Friday. The measure was passed by voice vote in a virtually empty House chamber despite lingering grumbling from tea party Republicans. It buys time for negotiations early next year on how to cover the costs of a yearlong extension of the two percentage point payroll tax cut, the centerpiece of Obama's fall jobs agenda.
It would boost the paycheck of the average worker making a $50,000 salary by about $20 a week and would prevent almost 2 million unemployed people from losing jobless benefits averaging $300 a week.