A bill that will extend a temporary employment tax cut for Americans through the end of the year, extend benefits for the unemployed and maintain reimbursement levels for doctors who see Medicare patients has passed both Houses of Congress. The bill will use incentive auctions of television spectrum to help offset costs that will result from other elements of the total legislative package. The bill awaits President Barack Obama’s return to Washington DC, whereupon he has promised to sign it into law.
The House of Representatives gave the bill a bipartisan 293-132 send-off, and the Senate followed suit with a 60-36 vote.
Republicans endured a very difficult month of December when they tried to block the one-year extension of the payroll tax relief package, eventually agreeing to a two-month extension and a promise to take the matter up again. The matter has now been taken up and dispensed with for the remainder of the year.
According to the Associated Press, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told reporters that many Republicans simply did not want to “…repeat the debacle of last December.”
The spectrum portion of the bill is expected to generate $15B in offsetting income via the auctions, and will also provide $7B to be used for a national interoperable communications network for first responders.
Interested parties on all sides of the spectrum issue have praised the bill, with support expressed from both the Democratic and Republican sides, as well as from both the broadcast and wireless sides.